Charney Jule Gregory 191781

JULE GREGORY CHARNEY was an American meteorologist who contributed to the advance of numerical weather prediction and to increased understanding of the general circulation of the atmosphere by devising a series of increasingly sophisticated mathematical models of the atmosphere. Charney was one of the dominant figures in the field of atmospheric science in the decades following World War II. Jule Gregory Charney was born in San Francisco, California, on January 1, 1917, to Ely Charney and Stella Littman. His parents were Yiddish-speaking Russian Jews who worked in the garment industry and were left-wing militants. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1922.

Charney earned several degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA): an A.B. in mathematics in 1938, an M.A. in mathematics in 1940, and a Ph.D. in meteorology in 1946. In that same year, Charney married Elinor Kesting Frye, a student of logic and semantics at UCLA. The couple had two children, Nora and Peter. In 1967, Charney married a second time, to Lois Swirnoff, a painter and color theorist who was a professor at UCLA and Harvard.

While completing his Ph.D., 1942-46, Charney was an instructor in physics and meteorology at UCLA. The entire October 1947 issue of the Journal of Meteorology was devoted to the publication of his dissertation, entitled "Dynamics of Long Waves in a Baroclinic Westerly Current." This paper emphasized the influence of long waves in the upper atmosphere on the behavior of the entire atmosphere and provided a simplified method of analyzing perturbations along these waves.

After graduation, Charney worked for a year as a research associate at the University of Chi cago. During the academic year 1947-48, he held a National Research Council postgraduate fellowship at the University of Oslo, Norway. While in Oslo, he developed a set of equations for calculating the large-scale motions of planetary-scale waves known as the quasi-geostrophic approximation. Charney's method replaced the horizontal wind by the geo-strophic wind as the term representing the vortic-ity. He did not make this replacement in the term representing the divergence. Thanks to this change, Charney was able to come up with a manageable set of filtered equations calculating large-scale atmospheric and oceanic flows.

Two years after his graduation, Charney joined the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Charney served as director of theoretical meteorology in a project to develop a computer program. With his team, he constructed a successful mathematical model of the atmosphere and showed that numerical weather prediction could be done using the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC), which took 24 hours to generate a forecast, and von Neumann's stored-program computer to create a forecast in five minutes. In 1954, Charney contributed to establishing a numerical weather prediction unit within the U.S. Weather Bureau. He is considered to have pioneered the use of computers in forecasting.

In 1956, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) hired Charney as professor of meteorology and 10 years later he was made Alfred P. Sloan professor there. His research dealt with the dynamics of atmospheres and oceans. From 1963 to 1966, he chaired the National Research Council's Panel on International Meteorological Cooperation.

From 1968 to 1971, he coordinated the U.S. Committee for the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP). This international project, which lasted for an entire decade, aimed to measure the global circulation of the atmosphere, to represent its behavior, and to develop better predictions of its future state.

Charney's role was fundamental in setting the global agenda and vision of GARP. The scientist repeatedly stressed that researchers should view the atmosphere as a single, global system. Charney was always a convinced supporter of international cooperation in meteorology and constantly pointed out that the lack of global observations prevented examination of the global side of the discipline.

During his long career, Charney received many awards and honors. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society. He was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a foreign member of the Norwegian and Royal Swedish Academies of Science.

The most important awards that Charney garnered were the Meisinger Award (1949), the Rossby Medal (1964) (both by the American Meteorological Society), the Losey Award of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (1957), the Symons Medal of the Royal Meteorological Society (1961), the Hodgkins Medal of the Smithsonian Institution (1968), and the International Meteorological Organization prize (1971). He was extremely popular as a visiting professor and guest lecturer. The University of Chicago awarded him an honorary D.Sc. in 1970.

Charney's career was complemented by his political commitment. After the invasion of Cambodia and the Kent State shootings in May 1970, he conceived his most ambitious political project, setting up the Universities National Antiwar Fund, raising money from academics to support anti-war candidates in the upcoming elections. Charney died from cancer in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 16, 1981. The American Meteorological Society honors Charney's memory by presenting an award named after him to reward individuals for "highly significant research or development achievement in the atmospheric or hydrologic sciences."

SEE ALSO: Climate Models; Climatic Data, Atmospheric Observations; Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

BIBLIOGRApHY. American Institute of Physics, www (cited September 2007); R.S. Lindzen, The Atmosphere—A Challenge: The Science of Jule Gregory Charney (American Meteorological Society, 1990); N.A. Phillips, "Jule Gregory Charney," in Biographical Memoirs (National Academy of Science, 1995); J. Shukla, Dynamics of Large-Scale Atmospheric and Oceanic Processes: Selected Works of Jule Gregory Charney (A. Deepak Publishing, 2002).

Luca Prono University of Nottingham

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