Verner Suomi: The Life and Work of the Founder of Satellite Meteorology

Verner Suomi: The Life and Work of the Founder of Satellite Meteorology


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As the space age got underway in the wake of Sputnik, one of the earliest areas of science to take advantage of the new observational opportunities it afforded was the study of climate and weather. This book tells the story of Finnish-American educator, inventor, and scientist Verner Suomi, who, in those early days of space science, brought his pragmatic engineering skills to bear on finding ways to use our new access to space to put observational instruments into orbit. In 1959, Suomi’s work resulted in the launching of Explorer VII, a satellite that measured the earth’s radiation budget, a major step in our ability to understand and forecast weather. Drawing on personal letters and oral histories, the book presents a rounded picture of the man who launched the field of satellite meteorology—in the process changing forever the way we understand and interact with the weather around us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781944970222
Publisher: American Meteorological Society
Publication date: 04/15/2018
Edition description: 1
Pages: 168
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

John M. Lewis is research meteorologist at National Severe Storms Laboratory, and visiting professor of atmospheric science at Desert Research Institute and the University of Nevada-Reno. 

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xi

Part I The Winding Road to Meteorology

1 On the Mesabi during the Great Depression 3

2 Road to Winona and Chicago 9

3 Entrée into Meteorology: Cadet to Instructor at the University of Chicago 13

4 Suomi's Research Style at the University of Chicago 23

5 Professorship at UW-Madison: Early Years (1948-1953) 29

6 Epiphany at Chicago 37

Part II Earth's Heat Budget from Space

7 Suomi-Parent Ping-Pong Radiometer and Its Principle of Operation 45

8 Explorer VII: The Magnificent Voyage 53

9 Earth's Radiation Budget from Satellites: Theme of the 1960s 59

Part III Space Science and Engineering Center: An Institute for Satellite Meteorology

10 Perfect Timing: NWP and Satellite Meteorology Merge 69

11 Panoramic View of Suomi's Research Themes at SSEC 75

12 Suomi's Model for Conducting Research at SSEC 85

Part IV Notable Research Themes: Their Past, Present, and Future

13 Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction 99

14 Atmospheres of Neighboring Planets 107

15 Satellite Data in Service to NWP 115

Part V Suomi's Uniqueness

16 Curtain Call: Last Project and Last Days 131

17 Epilogue 139

A Robert J. Parent's Vita 147

B Vignettes 149

C Mentorship 157

D Suomi's People: List of Coworkers, Protégés, and Colleagues 163

E Suomi's Witticisms and Aphorisms 169

References 171

Index 183

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