The Inauguration of Donald Trump yesterday marked the end of the Transition. Yet, the end of the Transition with a big “T” marks the beginning of small “t” transitions for everyone else—political winners and losers alike.

According to Reed College historian Joshua Howe, climate science is particularly affected by such changes, absorbing and adapting to shifts in political winds for many decades. The continually transitioning relationship climate science has forged with politics—especially environmental politics—is chronicled in Howe’s book, Behind the Curve: Science and the Politics of Global Warming (Univ. of Washington Press, 2014).

As a past recipient of the AMS Graduate Fellowship in the History of Science, Howe presented the basics of his book at the 2009 AMS Annual Meeting. His dissertation was expanded into the book. In a recent interview at New Books Network (listen here), Howe explains how climate scientists have had to reinvent their approach to environmental advocacy. In Howe’s view, the approach politically active scientists took to triggering action on climate change simply didn’t work well, making the field ripe for further transition.

It was clear early on that climate change, as an environmental concern, was unprecedented in scale and complexity. Following on the debate in the 1970s over the nation’s Supersonic Transport program, atmospheric science had won a place at the environmental table. But environmentalists were used to dealing with local pollution and wilderness access—clear quality of life issues that resonated with their middle class constituency, Howe says. They were interested in concrete, simple, nontechnical issues they could rally around—and climate change was too complex to fit those parameters. Climate change wasn’t a low-hanging fruit ripe for political victories.

Meanwhile, the issue of nuclear winter provided a further, politically loaded impetus to the climate community, Howe said. But the result was a split, with some scientists becoming more politically outspoken within the environmental movement, while others became more entrenched within a conservative physical science community. As a result, the relationship of government funding to climate science became politically fraught.

Scientists initially reached out on climate change through the government agencies in the 1970s. Howe points out that “working within government bureaucracies left scientists vulnerable to political change.” The Carter administration shifted directions; Reagan then arrived with budget cuts and curtailed access to bureaucracy.

In response, many climate scientists sought a technical consensus that might force political action by the shear power of knowledge. The scientists attacking the problem in the 1970s onward had, as Howe puts it, a “naïve” attitude.

“Better knowledge, climate scientists believed, would lead to better policy,” Howe said in his 2009 AMS presentation. “Perhaps it is time for scientists to drop the false veil of political neutrality and begin discussing science and politics as two sides of the same coin.”

The AMS Annual Meeting in Seattle is an ideal opportunity to ponder the future of the atmospheric sciences during the next four years. Check out the Monday Town Hall on “Climate Change – How can we make this a national priority?” (12:15 p.m., Room 613). Then attend the panel session on priorities of the Trump Administration and Congress later that day (4 p.m., same room). The panelists include Ray Ban, Fern Gibbons, and Barry Lee Myers.


Thanks for Sharing

January 16, 2017 · 0 comments

by Jeff Rosenfeld, Editor in Chief, BAMS

One of the great challenges of parenthood is teaching kids how to share. All too often the stigmatizing message spreads amongst parents at your toddler’s preschool: your little Izzie isn’t “sharing” with the other kids. Sharing is a difficult skill to teach at any age.

The problem is, of course, that we’re telling our children to share the things that matter most to them—sacred items like a toy car, a teddy bear, or a cupcake. To a two-year-old, the most innocuous possessions are precious and are not negotiable. Nor are adults setting an example by sharing precious possessions: we’re not sharing our home with our coworkers or handing the keys of our car to complete strangers. We don’t invite the people at the table next to us in the restaurant to sample our dessert.

Ultimately, some things we simply never learn to share. But you wouldn’t know it from looking over the program to our upcoming AMS Annual Meeting. Clearly, in atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrologic sciences you will find people who have learned to share. It’s a key characteristic of our community that we ought to share more with the rest of the world (for more on this, seek William Hooke’s book, Living on the Real World: How Thinking and Acting Like Meteorologists Will Help Save the Planet).

People in this community have no choice about sharing, actually. It’s the subject matter, above all. Water and air on this planet must be shared. We can’t live without sharing them. We certainly can’t study them without sharing, either.

Now, actually, science in general is good at sharing. Research can’t get anywhere if ideas and information aren’t shared. The shear number of people presenting at our meeting, however, is a very high percentage of our overall membership. Sharing is integral to science, and in particular to weather, water, and climate science.

Some presentations deal head-on with improving scientific sharing. For example, on Wednesday (Jan. 25, 8:45 a.m.), Kyle Tyle of SUNY is discussing the Big Weather Web initiative of NSF. The idea is to improve data management and access and minimize the work of creating visualizations. In the process Big Weather Web addresses the problem of reproducibility that bedevils a world in which everyone is creating tools and storage on their own.

Later the same day, at 5 p.m., Cecelia Deluca (CIRES, Univ. of Colorado) will talk about how the Earth System Prediction Suite initiative helps the major U.S. modeling centers strengthen their common efforts in subseasonal to seasonal scale prediction. “ESPS and its underlying standards begin to transform the S2S modeling community from one in which multiple modeling centers strive to understand each other’s efforts, to one in which each agency can leverage resources across the nation.” A lot of this, of course, is the sharing of codes and modules.

There are countless other examples of how scientists share techniques and data. Sharing gets more difficult—and the material benefits more elusive—when we talk about sharing at a personal level. The rewards are deep, however. This type of sharing is also fundamental to science. It governs how mentors, teachers, and leaders must interact with colleagues and students.

Melissa Burt and colleagues from Colorado State University published an illuminating article in BAMS in July about how sharing is the essence of solving a central dilemma of our science—how do we attract and keep talent from underrepresented groups in our field? Offering mentorships and field research opportunities are among the keys, but the bottom line in all of those recipes for recruitment and retention is the idea of sharing. Advisors, mentors, and colleagues need to show students that they will share their experiences and opportunities at every step in a student’s education.

At the root of effective sharing is the willingness to build and keep trust. Students ultimately will trust the atmospheric sciences with their futures if they realize the atmospheric sciences will entrust them with the responsibility to carry our work forward.

The trust-building example of the Earth Science Women’s Network (also featured in BAMS) has earned them the 2017 AMS Special Award at this upcoming Annual Meeting. It is inscribed “for inspirational commitment to broadening the participation of women in the Earth sciences, providing a supportive environment for peer mentoring and professional development.”

On this Martin Luther King Day, there’s a lesson in that for all of us—a lesson in supporting diversity through building trust and sharing. Science already models its relationship of trust, and not just by sharing data and tools with each other. Science models this relationship by asking for a measure of trust from the world. The fate of many, many species is, to a large degree, in the hands of those who seek understanding of climate, weather, and water. Surely a science entrusted with the global future can learn to hand over the keys to its intellectual future to eager, talented young people of all backgrounds.

(This post is adapted from the “Letter from the Editor” in the July 2016 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.)


“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny” wrote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly….Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its borders.”

On this day, each year, Americans honor Dr. King’s achievements. Yet realizing his goal of peace, justice, and empathy remains a challenge in a diverse society that continues to sort itself racially, ethnically, economically, and geographically. It takes action year-round to advance Dr. King’s social justice vision.

There are many members of our AMS community who, in their own ways, are answering that call to action. The themes of Martin Luther King Day will be fresh on our minds next week at our 97th AMS Annual Meeting in Seattle–consider taking time to weave your way into that “network of mutuality” by attending some of the many presentations on diversity in the sciences. For example:

There are posters, too, that look at diversity and programs that assist minority students and faculty teaching at minority-serving institutions:


Don’t Stay Neutral

January 6, 2017 · 0 comments

by Keith Seitter, AMS Executive Director

Back in September, I had the privilege of taking part in an excellent workshop on sexual harassment in the sciences that was convened by AGU in collaboration with several other societies. Several sessions of the workshop included discussion on how to reduce the potential for harassment at scientific meetings, so with the 97th AMS Annual Meeting just around the corner, I want to take this opportunity to address these issues.

First, it is important to recognize that sexual harassment in the sciences is more prevalent than most of us would like to believe. We have all read about some of the high-profile cases of truly egregious misconduct between senior scientists and students or junior colleagues. Much, much more common are types of harassment that may fall well below the legal standard for prosecution but are, nonetheless, unacceptable levels of behavior in a professional setting. As the workshop highlighted, these forms of harassment are able to exist partly because many of us are reluctant to take action when we see them (or even when we experience them)—choosing instead to “remain neutral” and not call someone out on behavior that has made someone else uncomfortable.

AMS has an excellent statement of “Professional and Respectful Conduct at AMS Meetings” that can be found here. This statement makes it clear that AMS expects all attendees to adhere to levels of professional behavior that ensure attendees will feel safe and comfortable throughout the meeting and all associated activities. It includes actions AMS will take if attendees do not adhere to these guidelines. As noted in the conduct statement, AMS has established several mechanisms for reporting unprofessional behavior at a meeting (which include sending an e-mail to, leaving a message on a special hotline at 617-226-3965 that will automatically alert a response team of senior AMS staff members, or simply letting anyone with a staff badge know about the issue).

The most powerful and effective mechanism to ensure a climate of safety and comfort at meetings, however, is for all of us to do our part and not stay neutral if we see or experience behavior that is not consistent with professional and respectful conduct. Take a few minutes now to imagine a scenario in which you see something that makes you or someone else uncomfortable, and think of some phrases that you could be comfortable saying. It can be simple, along the lines of “It is not OK to talk that way” or “that is not the way we do things.” A few simple words can have an enormous and immediate impact. The important thing is that you say something. Doing so will promote a climate of respect and help ensure that the kind of behavior we all expect at a scientific meeting is, in fact, what we experience.

(A version of this post appeared in AMS Executive Director Keith Seitter’s “Letter from Headquarters” column in the November 2016 BAMS.)


By Paul Higgins, AMS Policy Program Director

Presidential transitions are a time of uncertainty, change, and opportunity. For the AMS Policy Program, and for the entire AMS community, the transition from President Obama to President Trump offers a chance to reflect on our role in the broader society and to reevaluate how we might engage that broader society most constructively.

Our role is to advance science. For us, that means increasing both the potential for scientific discovery (i.e., through research and observations) and for the beneficial use of scientific understanding by the broader society (i.e., through the application of science and informed societal decision-making).

The AMS Policy Program uses three primary approaches to advance science: 1) we develop capacity within the scientific community for effective and constructive engagement with the broader society, 2) we inform policymakers directly of established scientific understanding and the latest policy-relevant research, and 3) we help expand the knowledge base needed for incorporating scientific understanding into the policy process through research, analysis, and studies.

Since the election, AMS Executive Director Keith Seitter and I have been active in reaching out to Congress and the transition teams. We’ve had discussions with staffers from both parties, including those who serve on the Senate Commerce and Appropriations Committees and the House Budget, Science, and Appropriation Committees. The meetings gave us the chance to distribute the AMS priorities statement and to provide background information on Earth observations, science, and services. The discussions have been going very well and they’ve helped to reinforce the value of our information-based, nonpartisan approach to policy engagement. Staff from both sides of the aisle express their appreciation for our approach and their high regard for our input.

Over the next several months, we will continue to consider ways that we can build on our core approaches to advance science most effectively. Our activities will almost certainly emphasize six basic strategies:

  1. To develop, communicate, and advance a positive vision for Earth observations, science, and services (OSS)
  2. To engage constructively with administration officials, the agencies, and congressional staff from both parties to encourage scientific advancement
  3. To praise, thank, and congratulate those who make positive contributions to Earth observations, science, and services
  4. To identify, characterize, and work to resolve efforts that may be counterproductive to scientific advancement
  5. To empower the scientific community to engage effectively and constructively with the policy process
  6. To improve our communication with (and outreach to) AMS members, other scientists, policymakers, members of the media, and the public with respect to the advancement of Earth observations, science, and services.

For now, we are focused on opportunities to work with Congress and the new administration to advance science and its beneficial use. We strongly believe the most effective approach to policy engagement starts with first building solid relationships, particularly with those with whom we differ. Building relationships depends on respect and understanding—recognizing that those who see it differently can still be high-minded people who are working toward their vision of a stronger country and a better world. In my experience, the vast majority of policymakers in Washington, D.C., have good intentions.

We understand why many are concerned about the potential for the misuse or abuse of science. We hope the need to protect scientists and science (e.g., from attacks or from misrepresentation and misuse) will not be necessary, but AMS has been strong on that in the past and is prepared for it again whenever necessary.

Now is an important time to engage constructively with the policy process. We can advance science most effectively with strong positive messages about the role of science in society. After all, our science helps efforts to meet basic human needs including food, shelter, energy, health, and safety. We need not be shy in seeking strong positive outcomes for our community or for the broader society that we serve. The policy process is complex, however, often more so than outsiders (including scientists) recognize. When we can balance humility about what we don’t understand about the policy process with confidence in what our science can provide to society, our efforts to engage will be more well received and that will lead to better outcomes.

Policy choices have the greatest chance to benefit society when grounded in the best available knowledge and understanding. Through our activities, the AMS Policy Program advances societal decision-making with respect to weather, water, and climate. This helps policymakers recognize and manage Earth system risks, and take advantage of emerging opportunities our science makes possible.



by Ron Birk, Northrop Grumman

Over 150 stakeholders in our Space-based Environmental Intelligence community came together December 1 at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., for a special event co-hosted by the American Astronautical Society and the American Meteorological Society. Key stakeholders from NOAA, NASA, USGS, Congress, the Administration, the European Union, the private sector and academia celebrated accomplishments including the successful launch and deployment of the NOAA GOES R geostationary weather satellite.

There was a buzz throughout the networking event about advancing societal benefits into the future. Dr. Bill Hooke, Associate Executive Director of AMS and author of Living on the Real World, brought his compelling perspective on the value of science for society. Dr. Piers Sellers, acclaimed astronaut and Earth scientist, shared his findings from over 30 years of research and space travel on the value of monitoring our Earth from space in an excerpt from the recently released National Geographic Before the Flood movie.

The audience enjoyed an impressive video prepared by the space-based environmental community (watch for the video to be posted here soon). Major aerospace players, including Ball Aerospace, Harris Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, provided impressive accomplishments linked together to form the value chain from environmental sensors processed into information products to inform emergency responders in saving lives and protecting property for a Weather Ready Nation. The Society of Satellite Professionals International and the European Commission Copernicus program enhanced the video highlighting benefits and capabilities that span the environmental intelligence value chain. The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Sustainable earth Observation Systems (SeOS), and the Aerospace Corporation joined in sponsoring the event.

The Honorable Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee, arrived just as Tom Fahy announced the Senate passed the Weather Research and Forecasting Act S.1561. Congressman Bridenstine enthusiastically called for the space-based environmental community video to be shared with congressional committees. He emphasized the value of environmental information for severe weather warnings, especially tornados and floods, key to people of Oklahoma and across the nation. He described steadfast support for NOAA operational polar and geostationary weather missions, Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES R), and heralded the value of Earth science to monitor the vital signs of our planet with benefits for our economy, protection of life and property, and national security. The Congressman also emphasized progress and plans an increasingly robust Earth observations system, including benefits of being augmented by commercial weather data. A key area identified as a challenge for the community is space situational awareness, recognizing that low Earth orbit is increasingly congested and contested.

Tremendous recognition is due to everyone in the community coming together to make this important enterprise successful and vibrant as we continue into the future. Thanks to all for bringing so much talent and energy to the event.  Our challenge and opportunity is to continue to reach out and expand our community, recognizing that everyone across the U.S. and around the world benefits from quality space-based environmental intelligence.


By Fred Carr, AMS President

Now that the election is over, a furious amount of activity has ensued on who will be in the new administration and what policies they will pursue. AMS members are particularly concerned about future science funding levels, environmental policies, observational and research infrastructure, STEM education, and who the new leaders will be in agencies that oversee aspects of the weather, water, and climate (WWC) enterprise. To provide guidance to those involved in the transition period, the AMS created a policy statement titled “Weather, Water, and Climate Priorities” that is located here.

I would like to summarize a few vital aspects of this document here. The fundamental premise is that “Economic and social prosperity belong to a society that understands and effectively responds to Earth’s changing weather, water, and climate conditions.” There is no doubt that many changes are occurring in the Earth’s physical and biological ecosystems (atmospheric and oceanic warming, Arctic and glacial ice losses, sea level rise, land use, drought and flooding intensities, etc.), most of them resulting from human activities. They are affecting our quality of life and large portions of our economy, and will worsen with time. These changes cannot be ignored, and national investment and leadership are needed.

The AMS policy statement provides recommendations on how to address these challenges, which require holistic, bipartisan, and coordinated strategies to accomplish. Some of them are:

  • The nation must invest in educating the next generation of scientists.
  • Both basic and applied research in the geophysical and environmental sciences must increase.
  • Observational infrastructure should increase across the WWC enterprise.
  • The U.S. should lead the world in high-performance computing.
  • Effective outreach to the public and decision-makers is needed to develop a scientifically literate citizenry and data-driven, science-based policies.
  • Partnerships among the academic, public, and private sectors are needed to develop successful policies and actions.
  • Outstanding individuals are needed to provide effective leadership of WWC-related agencies, advisory groups, and industries; they must be well-qualified, visionary, and diverse.

These recommendations make sense across the political spectrum, and I encourage readers to do what they can to bring them to the attention of the new administration.


By Jonathan Malay, AMS Past-president and retired Lockheed Martin Washington Operations

I’m sorry to say, the word “awesome” seems way overused these days. OK, it’s pretty funny when Cecily Strong’s character on Saturday Night Live’s “Girl Talk” sketch keeps saying “Awesome!” That’s amusing, but it’s not awesome. Awesome is a word we simply can’t help ourselves from using when we’re really blown away by something, like when we gaze at the natural miracle of the Grand Canyon below us, or when we behold the immensity, both in size and raw emotional impact, of the new One Trade Center in southern Manhattan, or when we see an Olympic record being broken.

As a meteorologist and a space guy, I’ve been fortunate enough to look up at the Space Shuttle from the foot of its launch pad at Cape Canaveral. I’ve seen the brilliant flames when the mission lifted off, and, a few seconds later, felt the vibrations of sound waves penetrate all the way to my bones. I stood in a clean room at the Stennis Space Center a few years ago where I saw, and actually touched, the initial structure and propulsion module of GOES-R, a spacecraft destined to become the first of a new and revolutionary generation of geostationary meteorological satellites. I can honestly say these things I saw and felt were really and truly awesome. goes_r

If the schedule holds, at 5:42 p.m. this Saturday, November 19, that satellite will be launched. Thousands of eyes, either in spectator locations, or in mission control rooms, at National Weather Service centers, on big-screen TVs, on computer monitors, or even on handheld devices, will watch the magnificent white- and copper-colored Atlas V as its powerful RD-180 engines ignite and send the GOES-R spacecraft toward its assigned orbit in space. It will be awesome. Really and truly.

GOES-R, which has been some 15 years in the making, is going to deliver to meteorologists, oceanographers, and space weather forecasters at NOAA and everywhere—and to the people of the United States and all the Americas—a truly awesome set of capabilities, such as:

  • Three times more spectral information
  • Four times greater spatial resolution
  • Five times faster coverage
  • Real-time mapping of total lightning activity
  • Increased thunderstorm and tornado-warning lead time
  • Improved hurricane track and intensity forecasts
  • Improved monitoring of solar x-ray flux
  • Improved monitoring of solar flares and coronal mass ejections
  • Improved geomagnetic storm forecasting

By now, AMS members and the meteorological community are probably aware of the improvements GOES-R and the other birds in the series—S, T, and U—will provide over the current GOES-N/O/P-series satellites, which have been in orbit since 2006. This new generation of GOES satellites will far exceed anything we’ve seen before. As someone who lived the GOES-R experience while working at Lockheed Martin in Washington, D.C., I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with many of the fantastic people who have made it a reality. These folks at NOAA and NASA, on the White House staff, on Capitol Hill, at my great company, at our industry partners, and across the meteorological, oceanographic, and space weather communities . . . there are too many of you to acknowledge individually (except program director Greg Mandt, my good friend and colleague, who truly deserves a special shout-out)—you have all been awesome!

So, along with all my friends in government and at Lockheed Martin Space Systems and the Advanced Technology Center, United Launch Alliance, Harris, Exelis, ATC, LASP, and all the great contractors on the team, we’ll all be watching Saturday’s rocket launch, saying with all our hearts: “GO GOES-R! GO ATLAS!” And then, as the mission disappears in the sky, we’ll all involuntarily say, “Awesome!”

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By William Haggard, CCM

(This post is adapted from the Introduction to the author’s new AMS book, Weather in the Courtroom: Memoirs from a Career in Meteorology. You can purchase the book from the AMS Bookstore here.)

I have been very fortunate to have had many wonderful experiences, and to have known at age 4 that I wanted to be a weather man. Being a forensic meteorologist was exciting, challenging and filled with the fun of meteorological detective work. The purpose of writing my new book, Weather in the Courtroom, was to share some of the significant cases in which I played a part. One goal was to choose interesting cases, and another was to show the variety of weather situations that can affect litigation.  weather_courtroom_cover_blog

While serving as the director of National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) between 1963 and 1975, I had been impressed by the large number of attorneys requesting weather data for litigation cases. The center would offer data certified by the Department of Commerce but government meteorologists could not be released from their duties to interpret this data in the courtroom. This void was filled by consulting meteorologists.

I decided that after retirement from the federal government I would become a consulting meteorologist specializing in forensic work. This specialty would allow me to bring weather testimony into the courtroom. In 1976, I formed the Climatological Consulting Corporation (CCC) and sent letters of introduction to lawyers listed in legal directories who appeared likely to need weather testimony in their litigation. They included aviation, marine, and insurance lawyers.

The first response came several months later from Charles Hagan in Anchorage, Alaska, who needed an expert weather witness in a plane crash. Though the weather analysis was complex, I was faced with the great challenge of learning courtroom procedures and the behavioral techniques that would convince the jury that I was a credible witness. I learned the importance of effective visuals with the concept that people retain 80% of visual information versus 20% audible.

When I started in this field, there might have been up to 50 other forensic meteorologists. Few were using visuals to show the details of their analysis and to illustrate the weather to the courtroom. I quickly learned the importance of these images and spent a lot of time trying to improve them. I greatly appreciated the help of my wife, Martina, an accomplished artist, who designed and perfected many of them. We started with hand drawn poster boards and evolved to large, commercially produced color images.

From there, I graduated to carrying an overhead Vugraph projector and screen to display transparencies to the court. I became known as the man with the pictures. My expensive analysis projector in the 1980s, which could project a time-lapse sequence of images, was a great improvement in showing sequential radar images. First used in a case of a ruptured oil tank in Hurricane Alicia, the jury was convinced of my testimony after seeing the rainbands moving over the stationary image of the tank on the screen. With time and technology, televisions were installed in courtrooms, strategically placed before the jury, judge, and council. Computers and computer simulations have now taken over.

After a slow start, word of mouth advertising, attending various lawyer conferences, and hard work all helped increase my business. Meeting and working with so many talented attorneys and staff was a great experience. My staff increased, my travel increased, and my lifelong passion of working with the weather continued. We worked on hundreds of cases varying from simple “slip and falls” to complex weather patterns such as those found in the Perfect Storm of 1991.

I had taken the challenging test and been the 150th to obtain my CCM from the AMS. As the caseload increased, I realized the need for more specialized interpretation of satellite data, hydrology, radar, and severe weather. I began affiliating with other CCMs in these subspecialties to better meet the client’s needs. These associates greatly assisted me in their specialty and enhanced the final work product.

I grew up sailing, served in the navy, and was an oceanic weather forecaster. I had expected marine meteorology to be the cornerstone of my courtroom work, but aviation became predominant until late in my consulting experience. The aviation attorneys that engaged me became frequent clients and spread the word. Approximately 75% of my over 200 cases involved aviation weather. The data required are somewhat different for aviation and marine cases, but were all are available from the National Climatic Data Center.

With these data I began my detective work. Forensic meteorology requires careful and accurate retrospective weather reconstructions. These often required very detailed and small time/space scale analyses—frequently relying on supplemental and/or non-standard meteorological data such as eyewitness statements, photos, police reports, NTSB reports, site visits. The great improvements in meteorological technology, in the resolution of meteorological images, and in the availability of the data all helped in my analyses of the weather.

After I moved to Asheville in 1961, my wife and I had purchased a hilly 100-acre farm east of Asheville. In 1975, we built our dream house there and I started my new company in the den with one secretary and a graphic studio area in the large basement. As the staff grew in size, we moved to a remodeled house near the creek. This location, overlooking large pastures, was a beautiful setting for the next 20 years. When I became frustrated by a technical problem, I would announce to the staff, “I’m going out to mow,” and would climb on my riding mower. Nature’s panorama of blue skies, white clouds, hillside forests and green grass helped clear my mind and was conducive to constructive thinking allowing me to return to the office with a fresh view and a mowed pasture. The five-minute walk from home to the office made it very convenient for me when I was not travelling. And I did travel extensively to meet clients, visit accident sites, testify in court attend depositions and meetings. I became a 1.6 million miler with Delta Airlines.

Writing this book has brought back fond memories of these great 26 years. I hope you enjoy it.


by Keith Seitter, AMS Executive Director, and Michael Friedman, AMS Journals Production Manager

It is interesting how quickly bad news travels, isn’t it? Conversely, good news seems to barely propagate at all if left to its own devices. Changing long-held impressions is even harder, and in some cases, even overwhelming evidence can barely make a dent. As an example, let’s turn to the terrific news coming out of the AMS Publications Commission meeting last May that seems to be taking a long time to filter effectively into the community.

The news at the meeting was universally positive and record setting on nearly every front—from the 3,436 manuscript submissions received in 2015, to the 65-day average time to first decision for those submissions, to the time to publication of accepted manuscripts, which has gone from an all-time low of 95 days in 2015 to the 2016 average (so far) of just 74 days. This is a huge improvement (~72%) from the dark days of 2008, when that metric was well over 200 days.

The dramatic recent drop in time to publication is due in large part to the 2016 transition to a continuous publication model in which each individual article is published online when it reaches final form, instead of waiting until there is a whole issue’s worth of material. The AMS Publications staff tries to take advantage of every potential efficiency improvement it can to drive the time to publication even lower.

These records are just the latest data points mapping a trajectory of continued growth and improvement on all fronts over the past several years, thanks to the efforts of many dedicated volunteers and professional staff, along with effective implementation of technological advances. Meanwhile, AMS publications have maintained the very high quality that has always been their hallmark.  AMS journals continue to rank among the best in the world in our subject areas, and their impact also increased as measured by several objective metrics.

We are doing our best to let the author community know about the excellent performance of the AMS journals on all fronts so that they will not avoid publishing their work with AMS due to concerns based on incorrect impressions. As noted above, however, this can be a frustratingly slow process, and overriding long-held impressions is not easy (we still hear from authors who complain about color charges even though those were eliminated three years ago).

Help us spread the good news. If it has been awhile since you have published in AMS journals, you will be pleased with the improved work flow and speed to publication that we currently provide. If you are considering doing so for the first time, know that along with the prestige and quality that have always been associated with AMS publications, we are able to offer a path to publication much faster than ever before.

(A version of this post appeared in AMS Executive Director Keith Seitter’s 45 Beacon column in the August 2016 BAMS)