Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Spotlight: Dr. Tetsuya “Ted” Fujita

Tidal Basin with cherry blossoms and ducks (NPS photo)

By AMS President Anjuli S. Bamzai

Blossoming cherry trees are stars of springtime in Washington, D.C., and the most popular place to visit the cherry blossom trees is the Tidal Basin. Their bloom is one of the most joyful events of the year, awaited with much anticipation by tourists, meteorologists, local businesses, and the National Park Service.

Celebrating the friendship between the Japanese and American peoples, the Tidal Basin cherry trees were a gift from the Mayor of Tokyo to the United States in 1912. While the precise timing of peak bloom varies from year to year (April 4 on average, driven largely by winter/early spring temperatures), peak bloom has been occurring earlier due to warming trends. Furthermore, a combination of rising sea level and sinking land has necessitated plans for a new seawall that requires many existing trees to be removed. Yet the government of Japan has promised new trees to replace those that were lost.

This year’s beautiful blossoms strongly reminded me of the remarkable contributions of Japanese Americans — in particular Japanese American meteorologists. Our science would be especially bereft without the contributions of several scientists who, after receiving their advanced degrees at the University of Tokyo in the so-called “Syono school” of dynamic meteorology, immigrated to the U.S. from postwar Japan. Among them were Tetsuya Fujita, Akio Arakawa, Akira Kasahara, Kikuro Miyakoda, Takio Murakami, Katsuyuki Ooyama, Michio Yanai, and of course, Syukuro ‘Suki’ Manabe, one of the three recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2021.

Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month, in this post I chose to showcase the contributions of the legendary Dr. Tetsuya Theodore ‘Ted’ Fujita. Nicknamed “Mr. Tornado,” he linked tornado damage with wind speed and in 1971, developed the Fujita scale for rating tornado intensity based on ground and/or aerial damage surveys. He is also recognized as the discoverer of downbursts and microbursts, which are serious potential threats to aviation safety. Thus his discoveries made aviation safer.

Fujita (left) with John McCarthy, Inaugural Director of NCAR-RAP/RAL, in 1982. After studying tornadoes for over two decades, Fujita had just seen his first one in person. Photo: Texas Tech, found in Fujita’s memoir, “Memoirs of an Effort to Unlock The Mystery of Severe Storms During the 50 Years, 1942–1992,” in the Texas Tech Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.

But let’s take a step back. How did Fujita get interested in tornadoes in the first place? In part, his involvement was yet another legacy of the Manhattan Project: Fujita began his life’s work studying damage in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the aftermath of the atomic bombs.

Fujita was working as assistant professor in physics at Meiji College of Technology in Tobata, exactly halfway between the two cities. A couple of years earlier, in compliance with his dying father’s wishes, he had opted to go to Tobata for his studies in mechanical engineering rather than Hiroshima. In the month following the bombings, Fujita and his team of students went on an observational mission to study the blast zones at both sites. At Nagasaki, through studying the burn marks of various objects, Fujita had the goal of estimating the position of the atomic bomb when it exploded. At ground zero, most trees, though scarred black by radiation, were still standing upright while buildings were in ruins. Seen from above, it looked like a giant starburst pattern.

After WWII ended, he joined the University of Chicago. By a stroke of genius, the Japanese American meteorologist was able to draw comparisons between severe weather and the nuclear shock waves he had studied some twenty-five years earlier at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, through studying the debris and damage of tornadoes before cleanup. He led the development of the Fujita Scale to categorize tornado intensity, a modified version of which remains in use today.

Following the Super Outbreak of 3–4 April, 1974, which covered over 2,600 miles and produced nearly 150 tornadoes in an 18-hour period, Fujita carried out aerial and ground damage surveys covering over 10,000 miles. Through meticulous analysis of the observational data, he demonstrated the existence of smaller tornadoes — suction vortices — within the parent tornado. The aerial surveys also led to the discovery of microbursts.

Photo: Dr. Fujita as a professor of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, photo taken in April 1961. Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

You can read more about his discovery of the downburst and its contributions to aviation safety (including his work as a principal investigator for the National Intensive Meteorological Research On Downburst [NIMROD] project) here.

In 2000, two of his former students organized the “Symposium on the Mystery of Severe Storms: A Tribute to the work of T. Theodore Fujita,” held at the 80th AMS Annual meeting. They were none other than Gregory S. Forbes from The Weather Channel and Roger M. Wakimoto from UCLA, both distinguished meteorologists in their own right. Roger was of course our AMS President in 2017–2018. The photo below shows the three of them at an event at the University of Chicago from the early 1980s.

Dr. Roger Wakimoto (left), Dr. Ted Fujita (middle) and Dr. Gregory Forbes (right), taken in the early 1980s when all were at the University of Chicago. Photo Courtesy of Roger Wakimoto, honorary member of the AMS.

You can read the proceedings of the Symposium here to get a fuller sense of Fujita’s immense contributions to atmospheric science. In this short piece, I have barely scratched the surface.

You can also learn about Fujita through the PBS American Experience series, which describes events and people who have shaped the landscape over the course of history. Fujita is profiled in the episode titled, “Mr. Tornado.”

Featured image: Cherry blossoms surround the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. Photo: National Park Service, Kelsey Graczyk

Anjuli is grateful to Katherine ‘Katie’ Pflaumer for providing useful edits.

SunSketcher (Part 2): Ordinary People Become Solar Eclipse Scientists for a Day

Eclipse sequence through sculpture

Guest post by Gordon Emslie (Western Kentucky University) and Hugh Hudson (University of Glasgow)

During the 2024 North American solar eclipse, a pioneering project aimed to use citizen-science smartphone data to help determine the true shape and size of the sun. How did it turn out? This is part two of a two-part post. Read part one here.

Eclipse-day weather

The SunSketcher program required clear skies, and during the wait for our rapidly approaching, astronomically imposed deadline, the national weather patterns were not looking good. About two days in advance, the predicted region of cloud cover did a remarkable, and indeed seemingly contrived, job of tracing the eclipse path all the way from Mexico to Vermont, with only New Hampshire and Maine mercifully spared.

Weather forecasts for eclipse day. Note the almost surreal way in which the forecast area of clouds tracks the path of totality. Left: Forecast cloud cover a couple of days before the eclipse (April 4), with yellow regions showing clearer skies, and black regions denoting cloudy skies (data from ECMWF IFS HRES model, image from Weather.US). Right: National Weather Service weather forecast from April 7, 2024, for afternoon of April 8, 2024. Purple lines indicate path of totality. Graphic: NWS Weather Prediction Center on Twitter.

Despite the gloom, we reportedly had some coverage from about 80% of the users, and we may be able to use much of the data from partially covered sites. (This remains to be assessed as a part of our data analysis.) As often happens during an eclipse, the drastic and sudden cooling of the lower atmosphere, and resulting drop in the ambient lapse rate, resulted in a seemingly magical parting of the clouds for many observers, including one of the authors stationed in Dallas, TX. The other author was at New Harmony, IN, on the banks of the Wabash river between Indiana and Illinois, and was able to witness the entire eclipse without a single cloud in the sky (see featured image at top of post).

Initial analysis of data from the 2024 eclipse

Over 35,000 users downloaded the SunSketcher app and activated it on eclipse day.1 The first user’s data upload from the SunSketcher app proved to be excellent. Here we show the observed variation of the total brightness in each of the 101 images uploaded.

Observed variation of the total brightness across 101 images taken by one SunSketcher app user around the time of eclipse totality, April 8, 2024. Left, the total signal in each of the 101 images (the central image has a longer exposure time); right, an expanded view around the time of second contact. The Baily’s Bead will be just at the intersection between the bright sliver of the partial eclipse at the left edge, and the base level of the corona itself at the bottom.

Our task in data analysis is to make detailed measurements of each user’s data in comparison with the LOLA archive prediction, thus allowing progressive adjustment of the assumed solar profile, culminating in a measurement of the height of the solar limb with the highest precision yet achieved. The redundancy of the 35,000 sets of data will let us explore the shape of the Sun and characterize its distortions (such as the oblateness) better than ever before. Contributions from along the path may allow us to search for time variations on time scales of an hour, which would be another first. The great length of the eclipse path will have produced coverage across the track, essential for detecting Baily’s Beads at different azimuthal angles around the Sun/Moon periphery.

1 Because we intentionally did not upload Personally Identifiable Information, we have no idea who these 35,000 citizen scientists were. [We do know, however, that the data presented in Figure 1 was obtained from a phone located in northeastern Ohio.] Nevertheless, they know who they are, and we thank them all for their valuable (and, in all cases, unique) contributions to the SunSketcher project.

Future work

The single “snapshot” of 2024 will have measured the solar oblateness, but we can be sure that effects related to solar magnetism will be evident on time scales of years. Given the success of the SunSketcher app project in 2024, the logical next step is to search for solar-cycle effects on the shape of the solar disk, using succeeding eclipses. For the eclipses of 2026 (the track of which includes Eastern Greenland, Western Iceland, and Northern Spain) and 2027 (Southern Spain, Gibraltar, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen) we will refine our techniques, for example shifting to “burst mode” photography to improve time resolution around the critical times of second and third contact. We will need to deal with making the app available in different languages, and with legal issues regarding user privacy and international transfer of data. We may also implement a very simple scheme of color selection to help reject contributions from the sun’s reddish chromosphere layer. (Indeed the 2024 eclipse had a very visible pink/red chromospheric prominence, as reported by many observers and as shown below.)

Totality during the 2024 April 8 eclipse, as viewed from New Harmony, IN. Note the conspicuous pink-colored chromospheric prominence at the bottom of the solar disk, near the white-light Baily’s Bead. Credit: Clinton Lewis/WKU.

Closing thoughts

The SunSketcher project is unlike any other science project we have ever conducted. Its blend of technology, functionality, and aesthetics, its absolute dependence on the participation of ordinary people as “citizen scientists,” and the inexorable path toward an absolutely rigid project deadline made for an interesting few months. We are elated that the weather cooperated to an extent far greater than feared in the days leading up to the eclipse, and, given the impossibility of actual “field testing” during other total eclipses, that the app worked as well as it seems to have done. 

We have been privileged to be part of an endeavor that introduced tens of thousands of members of the public to participation in solar science. Having taken our collective deep breath, it is time to move on to future eclipses, and the insights into the structure of our nearest star that a lengthy program of SunSketcher observations will ultimately reveal.

You can learn more about SunSketcher at

Featured image: A montage of eclipse stages during the 2024 April 8 eclipse, as viewed through a propitiously erected metal sculpture in New Harmony, IN. This image was also used on the NASA website. Credit: Clinton Lewis/WKU.

SunSketcher (Part 1): Using Smartphones to Reveal the Shape of the Sun

Total eclipse image with Baily's beads

Guest post by Gordon Emslie (Western Kentucky University) and Hugh Hudson (University of Glasgow)

During the 2024 North American solar eclipse, a pioneering project aimed to use citizen-science smartphone data to help more accurately determine the shape of the sun. How did it turn out? This is part one of a two-part post. Read Part 2 here.

Solar eclipses provide infrequent opportunities to study the faint atmosphere of the Sun while evading the glare of its body. In these brief moments, one can really enjoy a direct view of the glorious solar corona. One can also deploy specialized astronomical instrumentation to record and analyze images and spectra. And now, solar research can take advantage of the amazing technological advances available in everybody’s smartphones: GPS timing and geolocation, and cameras with many pixels. In 2017, the Eclipse Megamovie project, led by Laura Peticolas of UC Berkeley, captured and blended many images of the solar corona into a uniquely seamless movie of coronal variations over the 1.5 hours of totality, along the full length of the eclipse track. For 2024, we wanted to expand on this success by using precise timing information of eclipse features to determine the precise shape of the Sun — all with ordinary smartphones! Thus was born the project that came to be known as SunSketcher.

Why does the Sun’s shape matter?

The Sun’s exact shape is determined by the flows of gas within its interior; precisely observing that shape gives us a better sense of what is happening underneath. Accurately measuring the Sun’s oblateness (its deviation from a perfect sphere) will also allow very precise calculations of the effects of solar gravity on the motions of planets like Mercury, which can help us test out different gravitational theories.

The physics behind the shape of the Sun

The exact timing of events during an eclipse — the beginning or end of totality, for example — depends upon how big the Sun actually is. Many (including the eclipse legend Xavier Jubier) have commented on the possible use of detailed timing of eclipse features to revise our knowledge of the size and shape of the solar disk. The Sun is a fluffy ball of hot gas, and there are several different ways you could define its edge, or limb, and thus its size.

So instead we ask: What is the shape of the Sun? That is a question one actually can get a meaningful answer to, by selecting any reasonable definition for determining the edge of the Sun, and then seeing how this varies around its circumference (the limb). Intuitively, the rotation of the Sun will make it oblate rather than a proper sphere, and we observe this shape distortion to be about 1/100,000th of the radius. But other internal flows and forces can cause distortions to the shape of the solar disk, and these have never been measured previously. Solar magnetism is one such factor: the Sun has a magnetic field which is generated by, and moves with, the ionized gases within its interior. This magnetic field, and the associated flows cause time-dependent shape variations such as coronal mass ejections and the 11-year sunspot cycle.

The edge of the Moon and Baily’s Beads

There are four “contact times” during a total solar eclipse — when the edges of the sun and moon appear, from our perspective, to meet. The first contact is when the Moon begins to pass in front of the Sun, and the fourth contact occurs a couple of hours later when the Moon, traveling at over 2,000 mph, finally exits the path between the Sun and the observer. The times of second and third contact1 are when the solar and lunar limbs just match (the leading edge at second contact and the trailing edge at third contact). At these times, so-called Baily’s Beads (see the image above) briefly appear, bright spots formed as the sunlight passes through the lunar valleys but is blocked by the several-kilometer high lunar mountains on either side. This gives us a marvelous opportunity to get very precise measurements of the solar limb, using trigonometry. The shape of the occulting lunar limb has now been mapped out in great detail by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Selene satellites, with uncertainties as small as 5 meters. The eclipse lets us transfer this mapping to the Sun; since the Sun is about 400 times further from the Earth than the Moon is, a 5 m lunar roughness translates to a distance of only 2 km on the Sun, a tiny fraction of the 700,000 km mean solar radius. Multiple measurements of the precise timing of Baily’s Beads can therefore map out the shape of the solar limb with unprecedented precision, and this information can in turn be used to constrain the flows within the solar interior.

1 Note that for an annular eclipse (see below) the times of second and third contacts are reversed from their counterparts during a total eclipse. During an annular eclipse (see Figure 1), second contact corresponds to the trailing edge of the Moon being coincident with the solar limb, while third contact occurs when the leading edge subsequently arrives at the opposite edge of the solar disk.

A student-built smartphone app: SunSketcher 2024

The SunSketcher smartphone app was designed, developed, and implemented by a team of faculty and students at WKU (with majors ranging from computer science to art and design) to carry out the precise timing observations of Baily’s Beads necessary to map (“sketch”) solar oblateness. Its basic functionality is surprisingly simple: starting with the GPS location of the phone (known to a distance accuracy of a few meters, comparable to that of the lunar limb from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter [LOLA] database), the app uses2 the Besselian elements of the eclipse to calculate the precise times of second and third contact at the observer’s location.3

The app then commands the phone’s camera to take a series of 100 images (50 around the time of second contact and another 50 around the time of third contact). Because of some uncertainty about what exact feature (the first penetration of the solar crescent by a lunar mountain? the last ray of sunlight from the lowest valley at the limb?) corresponds to the published times of second and third contact, we deliberately chose to take images over a time interval spanning about 20 seconds either side of the published contact times. (Preliminary results from the 2024 April 8 eclipse show that this was overly conservative, and we will reduce the observing interval accordingly for future eclipses.)

Although the images are rather unspectacular, consisting of a few bright dots of light (Baily’s Beads) surrounding the lunar limb, it is the timing of the appearance and disappearance of these bright dots of light that provide the essential scientific information, and an ordinary phone is capable of timing each frame to an accuracy of a millisecond. With an eclipse shadow speed of about 2,000 mph (3,200 kilometers per hour, or about 1 kilometer per second), a timing accuracy of 1 ms represents a distance of about a meter, corresponding to about 400 m at the Sun. This is a superb level of accuracy.

2 Much of the coding for this first step was already present in a code written by Ideum, Inc., for the 2017 solar eclipse, and we are grateful to Jim Spadaccini of Ideum for sharing this code with us.
3 Besselian elements (named after the mathematician Friedrich Bessel) are a set of numbers that use the position of the Moon and the Sun to describe the circumstances of an eclipse as viewed by a hypothetical observer at the center of the Earth; with these numbers established, it is a relatively straightforward exercise in geometry to translate these to the circumstances for an observer at a given latitude, longitude, and altitude.

Testing the concept

Our research found a great deal of conflicting information about whether exposure to direct sunlight could damage a cell phone’s camera, so extensive beta-testing was carried out with various makes and models of phone, culminating in a beta-test during the 2023 October 14 annular eclipse at the University of Texas Permian Basin4 in Odessa, TX. These tests revealed that while exposure to direct sunlight could easily cause overexposure of images (and possible overheating of the phone), it did absolutely no damage to the phone’s camera.

A view of the third contact during the 2023 October 14 annular eclipse, taken at the Stonehenge replica on the UTPB campus in Odessa, TX, with a DSLR camera at 1/8000 second exposure time. Note the Baily’s Bead at 7 o’clock on the solar disk. Subsequent analysis allowed us to associate this bead with a prominent deep valley on the Moon’s limb, strongly validating the SunSketcher concept. Credit: Clinton Lewis/WKU. (Image was also used as the lead image in this NASA website article.)

Photographer Clinton Lewis accompanied the team on our trip to Odessa, and not only produced many images of the team at work, but also of the eclipse itself. Notable among these images was one taken at the time of third contact (Figure 1), showing a distinct Baily’s Bead lying approximately midway between the “horns” of the bright solar crescent at the other (uneclipsed) side of the Sun. This image was immediately termed the “Clinton Bead,” and formed the basis for a subsequent analysis in which we were able to identify the precise lunar valley (“Clinton Valley”) corresponding to it. More than any other evidence, the image of the Clinton Bead showed that the proposed methodology of SunSketcher was indeed very feasible.

The exposure time chosen for each image was 1/8000 second, which we determined to be sufficiently short to permit useful (unsaturated) images to be obtained without the use of a solar filter. Another image, with a significantly longer exposure time, is taken at mid-totality, when the circular ring at the base of the solar corona is visible. This central image is used to locate the Sun in the field of view of the camera, and a bounding box, large enough to accommodate the degree or so of diurnal drift during the 4 minutes or so of totality, is placed around this location. This bounding box is then used to crop each of the 101 images obtained, thus concentrating on the 5 kilobytes or so of scientifically valuable data. This reduced the amount of data that had to be transmitted from about a hundred megabytes per phone to less than a megabyte.

At the end of the observation period, the app shows the user all 101 photos taken and requests permission to upload them to a central server. Because of the substantial reduction in data content facilitated by the cropping of the images, the upload time is only about one second for all of the images taken from a single phone.

Many eclipse observers congregate in groups, and it was important that a phone did not simply duplicate the data from other phones in close proximity to it. To accomplish this, the app added or subtracted a random time, up to a quarter of a second, to the times of the images taken; with an eclipse shadow speed of about a kilometer per second, this added “jitter” corresponds to about plus or minus 200 m in phone location.

4 We thank the administration, faculty, and staff of UTPB for their hospitality during this beta testing, not to mention allowing us use of the Stonehenge monument replica on campus as a viewing location. Now there’s a place to see an eclipse!

The user interface

With the basic functionality of the code written, and successfully tested at the 2023 annular eclipse, the attention of the team turned to the more practical, legal, and aesthetic issues associated with its use by observers with no prior training. We added a short tutorial, covering matters such as how to point the phone camera and how to ensure an uninterrupted observing sequence. We employed focus groups to ensure the app was attractive and intuitively straightforward to use. Because the project involves the collection of data from phones belonging to a large number of members of the public, we also had to ensure compliance with legal issues such as user privacy. To avoid potential issues with different privacy laws in different countries, the app was made available only to phones belonging to a U.S. network.

Overall, the SunSketcher project involved tireless effort and commitment from a team of faculty and students representing disciplines ranging from computer science to art and design and even psychological sciences. There were countless highs and lows throughout the months of work. As we approached the day of the eclipse, everyone (and we mean everyone!) on the team knew that the astronomically imposed deadline was more absolute than any other project that they had before worked on, or would ever work on in the future.

Read Part 2 here to learn what happened on eclipse day! You can learn more about SunSketcher at

Featured image: Baily’s Beads in 2019 from La Silla, Chile (courtesy P. Horálek/ESO).

Celebrating Women’s Contributions to Atmospheric Sciences

By AMS President Anjuli S. Bamzai

I grew up in a family that valued intellectual pursuits, discipline, and the importance of women’s education—and was provided the support to make sure I received that education despite external social and cultural barriers. In the 1930s, when my mother was young, such values were uncommon outside of her family. My mother was the first woman in our community in the town of Srinagar, Kashmir, to receive a college degree, back in the late 1930s. She was followed by her younger sisters, one of whom went on to become the principal of the women’s college in town. Thus, I grew up with the important privilege of having strong women as role models.

As I entered the atmospheric sciences, one of the women who embodied the undaunted courage and determination in that generation of path-breakers was Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first U.S. woman to obtain a doctorate in meteorology, which she earned from the University of Chicago in 1949. In 1989 she became the first female president of the AMS. She researched hot towers and hurricanes, and was the project lead of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) at NASA. While I never got a chance to meet Dr. Simpson, she was a beacon of inspiration.

I worked at the National Science Foundation under Dr. Rita Colwell—NSF’s first female director. An eminent biologist, she is recognized for her groundbreaking work on global infectious diseases such as cholera and their connection to climate. At an NSF holiday party during her directorship, I was astounded and inspired by the number of awards and honorary degrees on her office wall, from institutions all over the world! I admire her efforts in developing programs that support the advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers, such as NSF ADVANCE.

AMS President Anjuli S. Bamzai with a portrait of Dr. Joanne Simpson at AMS HQ (left), and with Dr. Rita Colwell (right). Images courtesy of Anjuli S. Bamzai.

This Women’s History Month, as I reflect about women pioneers who inspired me, I thought I’d share with you a few important figures from my mother’s generation and before. Their contributions have indeed made our field a richer place.

June Bacon-Bercey (1928–2019)

When June Bacon-Bercey went to UCLA, her adviser told her she should consider studying home economics, not atmospheric science. Considering that she’d transferred to UCLA specifically for its meteorology degree program, she didn’t believe this was good advice. We’re all lucky she followed her heart.

Bacon-Bercey graduated from UCLA in 1954, the first African American woman to obtain a bachelor’s degree in meteorology there, and early in her career worked for what is now the National Weather Service as an analyst and forecaster. Later, as a senior advisor to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, she helped us understand nuclear fallout and how atomic and hydrogen bombs affected the atmosphere.

In 1972, she became the first on-air African American female meteorologist, working for WGR-TV in Buffalo, New York (and soon after, became the station’s chief meteorologist). That same year, she was the first woman and first Black American to be given the AMS Seal of Approval for excellence in broadcast meteorology. In 1975, she co-founded the AMS Board on Women and Minorities, now called the Board on Representation, Accessibility, Inclusion, and Diversity (BRAID).

June Bacon-Bercey. Image: AMS.

June Bacon-Bercey was a truly multifaceted scientist: over the course of her life, she was an engineer, a radar meteorologist, and a science reporter. She established a meteorology lab at Jackson State University, created a scholarship with the American Geophysical Union, earned a Master of Public Administration, and even served as a substitute math and science teacher well into her 80s. Not only did she achieve so much personally, but she was instrumental in making atmospheric sciences more accessible to minorities and to women.

I’m grateful to her for leaving all of us at AMS such a rich legacy, and hope you are too! Her determination and foresight benefit us all to this day.

Anna Mani (1918–2001)

Despite growing up in the same city where Anna Mani worked at the India Meteorological Department, I learned of her immense contributions to the field only recently. She followed her passion to study meteorology at a time when it was uncommon for women to pursue science. Although it went unseen by many, Mani’s work was instrumental (literally) in advancing meteorological research in India. Anna Mani once said, “Me being a woman had absolutely no bearing on what I chose to do with my life.” 

Thwarted from studying medicine as a young woman, she developed a passion for physics, studied the properties of diamonds, and eventually earned a scholarship to study abroad, learning as much as she could about meteorological instruments. Returning to India just after the country’s independence, Mani played an important role in developing Indian-made weather and climate observing instruments, helping the country become more self-reliant. Her ozonesonde—the first developed in India—was created in 1964 and used by India’s Antarctic expeditions for decades; in the 1980s, these ozonesonde data helped corroborate the presence of the ozone hole in the Antarctic.

Anna Mani and colleague with a radiosonde. Image: World Meteorological Organization.

She eventually became deputy director-general of the India Meteorological Department. She also held multiple elected positions with the World Meteorological Organization related to instrumentation, radiation climatology, and more.

After (nominally) retiring in 1976, she spent the next few decades—almost till the end of her life—heading up a field research project unit assessing wind and solar energy resources. That work paved the way for many wind and solar farms across the country, advancing India’s leadership in renewable energy. How prescient her thinking was in terms of the need to move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy resources for the health of the environment!

Eunice Newton Foote (1819–1888)

By all counts, Eunice Foote was a remarkable woman. She was a dedicated women’s rights campaigner and suffragist, who attended the historic 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, helped publish its proceedings, and was among the first signatories on its Declaration of Sentiments.

In 1856 she was also the first person to demonstrate heat absorption by atmospheric gases and their potential climate impacts. Using a mercury thermometer inside glass cylinders, Foote found that the heating effect of the sun was greater in moist air than dry air, and highest of all for carbon dioxide. She even suggested that higher proportions of atmospheric CO2 could have caused warmer climates over the course of Earth’s history.

Yet the findings of a female amateur scientist—including the first non-astronomical physics paper published by an American woman—were ignored or dismissed by many at the time. Possibly unaware of Foote’s work, a few years later John Tyndall from Ireland wrote his seminal paper on the topic of atmospheric gases and solar radiation in 1861, and he was credited with the discovery of the greenhouse effect.

That didn’t stop Foote, who would publish another physics paper and produce several patented inventions including a temperature-controlled stove. Though she spoke out about women being forced to file her patents under their husbands’ names for legal reasons, she still filed three under her own name, including rubber shoe-inserts and a paper-making machine. As a scientist, inventor, and women’s right campaigner, Eunice Foote was a trailblazer in the true sense of the word. 

The Declaration of Sentiments of the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, 1848. Eunice Foote’s name is fifth in the left-hand column. Image source: U.S. Library of Congress.

Women continue to break barriers!

Women, and especially women of color, still face barriers to equal participation and recognition within our fields. There are women whose names we *should* all recognize, but whose work has been buried, others whose ambitions may have been thwarted, or who are still struggling to be taken seriously. Whoever and wherever you may be, you can do your bit to help change that. By giving credit where it is due, we do right by each other and help make the meteorological ecosystem an attractive place to join, work, and collaborate in.

I would invite all of us to make a special effort to recognize the women we know who are making important contributions in Earth systems sciences—not just the ones who’ve already made a name for themselves, beating the odds. Mentor the early career scientists you know. Appreciate their talents and potential. Champion their careers. Consider nominating those you consider meritorious for AMS awards (including the Joanne Simpson Award and the June Bacon-Bercey Award!). If you’re part of the AMS community, consider following in the footsteps of June Bacon-Bercey by getting involved with BRAID’s efforts to make our field more welcoming for all who have a passion to be part it—including women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and those with disabilities. Or you might simply view and share this month’s AMS social media posts, celebrating women in our community. Happy Women’s History Month!

Anjuli is grateful to Katherine ‘Katie’ Pflaumer for providing useful edits as well as contributing material.

Changing Coasts and Culture

Image of wave washing over a rocky beach

AMS 2024 Session Highlight: “Convergence Science in the Context of Integrating Weather and Climate Science with Studies of Marine and Coastal Resources and Geophysical Processes”

By Isabella Herrera, AMS Policy Program

One of the most challenging parts of planning out my week at the AMS Annual Meeting was choosing which symposia and sessions to attend in person, and which to catch on my laptop after leaving Baltimore. Convergence Science: Indigenous Weather, Water and Climate Knowledge Systems, Practices, and Communities was one of the symposia for which I knew I wanted to bein the room where it happens.” In this case, “the room” was in the Baltimore Convention Center, and unlike many scientific and political discussions throughout the history of the United States, these discussions focused on Indigenous voices and the need for the scientific community to more meaningfully engage with Indigenous science and Native peoples. 

The symposium centered on the work of the Rising Voices Center for Indigenous and Earth Sciences (co-administered by NCAR|UCAR and the Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network), including the Rising Voices: Changing Coasts (RVCC) research hub. As Lead Investigator Daniel Wildcat said in an opening address for the symposium, RVCC is “catalyzing efforts to bring Indigenous knowledge holders [together] with some of the best university-trained [physical] scientists in the world … to model what convergence science looks like if you include Indigenous wisdom and knowledge.” A short film was played during the morning session to honor the late Dr. Heather Lazrus, Rising Voices co-founder, and her work with Rising Voices. 

A panel discussion during the symposium, Convergence Science in the Context of Integrating Weather and Climate Science with Studies of Marine and Coastal Resources and Geophysical Processes, featured a variety of speakers working at the various intersections of weather, water, climate, marine, and Indigenous science. Here are some of the experiences and perspectives shared during this session.

The Convergence of Science and Identity: Being Native in Scientific Spaces

Robbie Hood, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and atmospheric scientist, started off the session describing her experience having worked for both NASA and NOAA, and mentioned that although she’d been to many AMS Annual Meetings throughout her career, this was her first time being able to represent herself as a Cherokee. Hood emphasized the immense opportunity of convergence science in practice.

“To me, it’s just science,” said Kekuʻiapōiula (Kuʻi) Keliipuleole, a Native Hawaiian and researcher at the University of Hawaiʻi. Native peoples’ knowledge of and connection to their lands is expansive, and deep, and intimate, Keliipuleole explained to us as she introduced herself by naming her mountain (Makanui), her waters (Wai‘ōma‘o and Pūkele), her rain (Lililehua), and her winds (Lililehua and Wai‘ōma‘o). She spoke about being a Native person who studies native organisms in their environment, in Hawaiʻi for Hawaiʻi, and the complexities of merging her identity of being Native and a scientist – of integrating “western” science into her culture.

Photo of Daniel Wildcat speaking in front of a screen on which is displayed the words, "Rising Voices, Changing Coasts: A new/old approach to convergence science. Speakers: Daniel Wildcat, Paulette Blanchard, Diamond Tachera, Kyle Mandli, Julie Maldonado." Two people are sitting in front of the screen while Dr. Wildcat is standing.
RVCC Lead Investigator Daniel Wildcat giving an opening address during the first session of the Convergence Science symposium, “Rising Voices, Changing Coasts: A New/Old Approach to Convergence Science.” Photo credit: Isabella Herrera.

“From when we are babies, we are learning this method of kilo [a Hawaiian word literally translated as “observations,” but with much deeper meaning in practice] … It’s being able to know the rains and the winds,” she said. “I could tell you that this one tiny section in a road over from my road is constantly flooding … because the government paved a road over an old spring … I see this [particular microbial mat], and I know that comes from groundwater, so I know that that was a spring because I have this kilo, this observational experience.”

Historically, Indigenous scientists have often had to navigate the supposed duality of their identities – of being a scientist and a Native person – and have not been able to include their Indigenous knowledge in their work in the same way they can with the science taught to them through academic institutions. The convergence of western scientific knowledge and Indigenous knowledge is integral to the future of the WWC enterprise.

Suzanne Van Cooten, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and Regional Administrator of the USGS South Central Climate Adaptation Center (SC CASC), highlighted the importance of inviting Tribal nations and other groups that have historically been dismissed from climate and water conversations to scientific spaces. She shared her enthusiasm about the first time she was able to forecast for her homelands as a hydrologist.

Respectful Engagement, Not Exploitation

“I think a lot of the Tribes kind of feel like they get talked at more than they get talked with.”

-Daniel Wildcat
Three people sit in front of a screen (their names are listed in the caption below). The screen is displaying the words, "Convergence Science in the Context of Integrating Weather and Climate Science with Studies of Marine and Coastal Resources and Geophysical Processes.
Speakers: Robbie Hood, Suzanne Van Cooten, Ku'i Keliipuleole, Carlos Martinez, Casey Thornbrugh."
(left to right) Speakers Carlos Martinez, Kekuʻiapōiula (Kuʻi) Keliipuleole, and Suzanne Van Cooten during the panel session. Photo credit: Isabella Herrera.

The session also featured discussions of how to go about entering Indigenous spaces from the world of western (or, as Van Cooten prefers to say, colonial) science.

Carlos Martinez, a climate scientist, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, and program coordinator for the National Science Foundation Coastlines and People Program (CoPe), also serves as a board member of the AMS Board of Representation, Accessibility, Inclusion, and Diversity (BRAID). He talked about his experience working with communities on convergence science.

“One of the things I have learned [is] knowing my place in the room … understanding that what I share is through my lived experiences, and not imposing what other people’s experiences are,” Martinez told us. 

A humble, listening approach is important for effective engagement, yet non-Indigenous groups often fail to employ this approach when entering Indigenous spaces. “I think a lot of the Tribes kind of feel like they get talked at more than they get talked with,” Daniel Wildcat said. “This is systemic.”

“When immersing in a space with convergence science in mind, [one thing I learned is] actively listening; for example … listening to what the communities are interested in learning, what their needs and concerns are, and then if willing, provide resources or information in communication with one another,” Martinez said. “I always take criticism and feedback as a way for growth, as a way that I can be … a better scientist and a better human being.” 

Non-Indigenous scientists should consider their intent versus impact when working with Indigenous communities. Historically, the scientific community has engaged with Indigenous peoples in a way that has been exploitative and continues to perpetuate colonialism, even if the work itself was initially intended to benefit those same communities. 

“If you want to work with Indigenous people, then you’ve got to change how you think about what that work requires,” Wildcat told us. 

Aspects of science and academia can become obstacles to building trusting relationships – something that is deeply important in working with Indigenous people. Most researchers and policymakers aren’t able to spend the time to establish meaningful and authentic relationships with the tribes they may want to work with, and appropriated dollars can’t be spent on food to host community gatherings. 

“[Working with Indigenous people] requires time, it requires meetings where you don’t have an agenda,” Wildcat explained. “You go meet with people, find out what they’re doing, find out what their issues are. . .and then [consider ways you] could assist.”

One of the main challenges Tribes face when it comes to federal funding opportunities, Van Cooten explained, is having the capacity to co-produce applications for funding and then administer the funds. Tribal leaders and program officers are already spread far too thin within their own communities to dedicate any more of their time applying for, let alone managing, large grants. “Yes . . . it’s a huge amount of money, but it will also take a huge amount of management. And so that capacity in the Tribe to manage that, with all the reporting, with everything that’s going to go along with that funding . . . they don’t have that.”

Many of the challenges faced by Tribal Nations are intersectional, and the approaches taken to address them must be, as well. This also rings true for challenges in weather, water, and climate science. Communication is key to both building meaningful relationships and to realizing the full potential of convergence science.

“It’s not much different than trying to put a weather forecaster in the same room with a weather researcher,” Hood told us. “. . .they talk a different language and they’ve got different metrics for what’s important, but if you give them that chance to talk, they’ll work it through. … We just need to open our minds and think about it from both points of view.”

A Change in Culture

These discussions made me consider the profound impacts that this shift in worldview could have on science and society as a whole.

Physical and biological sciences are intrinsically linked, and the need to integrate these two broad disciplines sparked the usage of the term “convergence science” in the first place. Does “western science” continue to limit itself by viewing the Earth and its systems (including biological systems) as entirely separate entities? How is that restriction reinforced by rigid academic and scientific institutions? How can we realize the full potential of convergence science (across various scientific disciplines, and across cultures and communities)?

As Keliipuleole told us, the scientific community “needs more of us to see the world the way that [Native people] see it, and not the way academia raised us to see it.”

There needs to be a culture change. There needs to be capacity building for and within Tribal Nations so that non-Indigenous scientists can engage with Indigenous science, and at universities and Tribal Colleges so students holding this Indigenous knowledge can be a part of the future of the scientific enterprise. There needs to be more of an effort to not just include but to amplify Indigenous voices in spaces like the AMS. The convergence of the western and Indigenous weather, water, and climate sciences must address the ongoing role of colonialism in modern scientific practices, and acknowledge the value of Indigenous science in and of itself.

As Van Cooten said at the start of the discussion:  

“[Science] should be inclusive to all communities, not just primarily those that have the loudest voice.”

Header photo credit: Isabella Herrera.

Recordings of all Convergence Science symposium sessions are available now to registered attendees of the AMS 104th Annual Meeting (log in and find each session through the online program). All recordings will be available to the public beginning three months after the meeting.

About the AMS 104th Annual Meeting

The American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting brings together thousands of weather, water, and climate scientists, professionals, and students from across the United States and the world. Taking place 28 January to 1 February, 2024 at the Baltimore Convention Center, the AMS 104th Annual Meeting explored the latest scientific and professional advances in areas from renewable energy to space weather, weather and climate extremes, environmental health, and more. In addition, cross-cutting interdisciplinary sessions explored the theme of Living in a Changing Environment, especially the role of the weather, water, and climate enterprise in helping improve society’s response to climate and environmental change. Learn more at

Our Turn: Highlights from the AMS Student Conference

Attendees at the AMS 2024 Student Conference

The 2024 AMS Student Conference, held January 27–28 in Baltimore, was a major success, with 740 attendees and 285 poster presentations. If you registered, you can view the Student Conference presentations online now! We checked in with this year’s conference chairs–Melissa Piper (SUNY Albany), Angelie Nieves Jiménez (Colorado State University), and Dillon Blount (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)–to hear their takeaways.

What was your favorite thing about the conference?

Melissa: My favorite moment was 2023 AMS Edward N. Lorenz Teaching Excellence Award winner Dr. Teresa Bals-Elsholz’s talk during our opening remarks on Saturday, titled, “Does Life Equal Advection?” She gave an inspiring, engaging, and relevant speech about her career path and advice for the student attendees. One quote was particularly memorable: “Do your best. Follow your passion.” It was a fantastic way to kick-start the conference! I heard a lot of students mention just how much they enjoyed it. She was incredible!

Dillon: My favorite part of the Student Conference was the opportunity to speak with students from a variety of institutions and locations! I always enjoy hearing how students have been impacted by different sessions within the conference. One of the highlights this year was the Director of the National Weather Service, Ken Graham, giving both an impromptu session on Saturday and our second keynote presentation on Sunday. Having the opportunity to engage with Ken, many students came away with a new excitement for their future. I love hearing the positive interactions that happened with all the student-speaker engagements.

Angelie: My favorite part of the conference was seeing how our hard work panned out! I enjoyed seeing students entering the Ballroom or enjoying their walk through the Career and Graduate School Fair. Hearing them speak positively about their experience after attending sessions and meeting with the professionals they look up to reassures me that our work is impactful. In addition, witnessing them present at the Student Poster Session and apply the concepts and skills they have learned during the conference was very encouraging. We heard from first-year student attendees that they’re excited to return next year. They now know how to prepare, and what to expect and focus on!

Tell us about some of your most popular sessions.

Melissa: Conversations with Professionals is always a crowd favorite. Students can interact with 10 professionals from different career paths (broadcast, private sector, academia, NWS operations, policy, etc.) in an informal Q&A format, with each professional in their own room. This year we had a surprise 11th professional: not even 15 minutes before the session began, NWS Director Ken Graham offered to join the session and connect with the students. It ended up being one of the hits of the conference!

Angelie: One of our most attended sessions was the theme session, Research, Communication, Policy. We had three speakers, Dr. Gavin Schmidt, Ms. Sophia Whittaker, and Mr. Kei Koizumi, who spoke about Climate Research, Climate Communication, and Climate Policy. This session, held in the big ballroom on Sunday morning, was accessible and applicable to all the students.

Dillon: Another popular session this year was Non-Traditional Jobs. This year, the non-traditional careers ranged from a STEM librarian to someone in educational research. This session breaks the barrier of students feeling like they must enter the big areas in our field to be successful and allows them to understand what opportunities may be available in non-traditional areas.

What were some key pieces of advice—from you or from speakersfor early-career professionals?

Angelie: [One] piece of advice is to grow your network and meet new people. The conference is what you make of it, and it’s important to attend the sessions that will benefit YOU. Prepare and navigate the conference as you see fit for your interests.

Dillon: A piece of advice that I heard throughout the weekend was that students should get involved! Whether this be at your institution, community, or within AMS, getting involved will help grow your skill sets and push you outside your comfort zone.

[Speaking of getting involved:] This was the first year that the AMS Board on Student Affairs (BOSA) existed. … We encourage any student that would like to participate in the planning of the student conference or be on other committees to join BOSA! We had a successful first year, and we cannot wait for another great year. 

Melissa: One piece of advice I heard multiple times was to find a way to stand out. Students need to get involved and gain experience outside of their atmospheric science classrooms—take programming/GIS/communication courses, get an internship, conduct some research, take on a leadership role, etc. 

We heard from many of our speakers just how impressed they were with the student attendees! The students were particularly engaged this year and asked thoughtful and relevant questions about science and career paths.

What have you learned from your time as co-chairs, and what would you tell your successors?

Dillon: One of the biggest things that I learned throughout the year as co-chair was confidence. This was the largest leadership role that we have taken on, and I am so glad to have done it beside Angelie and Melissa. As we worked together throughout the year, our confidence grew immensely. … Of course, we would not have been able to accomplish anything without the assistance from the entire Student Conference Planning Committee team. The three of us learned that one of the most important aspects of leadership is relying on an amazing team like SCPC. To our successors, my biggest piece of advice is to adapt, learn, and gain confidence as you go!

Melissa: This past year as co-chair taught me how to be flexible and the importance of communication when you are part of a team. Dillon, Angelie, and I were able to successfully navigate obstacles and implement solutions due to our flexibility and communication with each other. To our successors, my biggest piece of advice would be to trust and rely on your fellow co-chairs. The three of you are a team of equal participants going through this crazy experience together—enjoy and have fun with it!

Angelie: When you step into the role, it will feel like a big responsibility and that maybe you’re not qualified for it, but you are! You’re there for a reason, and you have a team, and everyone is rooting for you. It’s all a learning process, and AMS Staff is available to help you, and Dillon, Melissa, and I are as well. Leadership roles like this one will provide you with tons of experience and are very rewarding. Enjoy the process since it goes by very quickly!

You can view our previous post about the 2024 Student Conference here.

Getting to Know You: Anjuli S. Bamzai, AMS President

Anjuli Bamzai

Anjuli Bamzai took up the position of AMS President January 28, 2024, at the 104th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society. In her day job, she is a Senior Science Advisor on Global Climate Change in the Directorate for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF). She has also worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Atmospheric and Oceanic Research and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Dr. Bamzai has served as an Embassy Science Fellow in Seoul, South Korea, and Cairo, Egypt; as the U.S. Government reviewer for the IPCC AR4; and on the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee for the third National Climate Assessment. Among other degrees, she has earned PhDs from George Mason University and the Indian Institute of Technology. Read her bio here.

We spoke with our new AMS President about her history, influences, and what to expect at next year’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans!

You have a physics/math background; what drew you to the applied/atmospheric sciences?

In 1927, my maternal grandfather received a scholarship from the then Maharaja of Kashmir to study civil engineering at Harvard University. He was inducted to Tau Beta Pi in 1929. He returned to Kashmir, and rose to be the chief engineer of the state—quite an influential person in his own right in terms of planning and building the infrastructure in the region in the 1930s–50s. Growing up, he was a big influence in our lives in terms of discipline, rigor and the value of education. He actively encouraged his daughters, and later his granddaughters, to pursue higher education. As I entered college, meteorology was not uppermost on my mind; I was fascinated by physics, although of course, meteorology could be considered as physics applied to the atmosphere, ocean, and other Earth System components. All along I was interested in the environment, particularly the upper atmosphere; in the 1980s and 90s ozone stratospheric chemistry received huge attention. The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1989 and decades later, we are reaping the benefits and witnessing the healing of the ozone layer. 

As for weather-related childhood experiences, in 1961 when I was in elementary school there was disastrous flooding in the city of Pune, which was close to the town we lived in. Incessant rains for a couple of weeks caused the Panshet dam to burst due to a breach in the construction of its wall; waters fed into Khadakwasla dam that breached as well.  

I remember that day vividly. They let us out of school early; they said the dam had burst and there was flooding. We thought we’d go back home and find our homes just gone. Turned out Khadakwasla where I lived was on higher ground. We could see the breach in the second dam and red, muddy waters of those floods … moving toward the city of Pune and its hapless residents who were caught completely off guard. We had no school for several weeks. A lot of people in Pune faced a lack of drinking water, most of the bridges were destroyed. Several decades later, on my first day at NSF, I met the program director in Hydrological Sciences, Doug James. When he learnt I had lived in Pune, he asked me about the floods. I discovered he had actually come to Pune to study this rainfall event with colleagues at the Central Water Research Institute. It was an outlier event not just in my memory, but for the city and researchers across the globe like Doug!

You often talk about the value of inclusivity in the weather-water-climate enterprise. What are some of the challenges we face in that respect, and how can AMS help?

It’s about creating a welcoming and nurturing space for people who want to participate but may otherwise be facing challenges, be they lack of opportunity thus far, inherent biases in our system and/or individual biases. The aspirational goal is to make our field more attractive so we tap into the talent that is out there. The onus is on each of us to make it attractive, to share our experiences and achievements as well as disappointments.

People make career choices about what direction to take. How do we make the whole weather-water-climate professional ecosystem an attractive proposition to them? First of all I think the atmospheric and related sciences is in itself so interesting. It goes all the way from ivory tower to use-inspired, to application, to services, to tech development … We need exit ramps for people to leave and come back again. Increasing diversity is not only about gender diversity, important as that is. There are so many divides, e.g., rural-urban, socio-economic, minority and underrepresented groups. How do we ensure pathways to fuller participation? There’s also tension between foreign talent and the neglect in nurturing talent within this country. For example, we’re finding that smaller institutions, minority-serving institutions, smaller HBCUs oftentimes don’t have the infrastructure or ready access to federal resources. We had interesting sessions on the topic of broadening participation of the weather, water and climate enterprise at the 104th AMS Annual Meeting at Baltimore.

I want to understand and learn from the DEI assessment that AMS is undertaking. We have to be mindful that each of us is coming in with our own set of experiences. It’s challenging, but I believe that we need to keep striving doggedly with perseverance to create opportunities everywhere, innovation anywhere.

Who are some people who’ve influenced you and your leadership style?

We stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. People I admired like Drs. Joanne Simpson and Rita Colwell. They had the grit and determination to keep paving the way, just like the Honorable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg! They are right there at the top for early-career women to read about and draw inspiration from. Dr. Colwell was the first female Director of NSF. Last year, I was thrilled to receive an email of congratulations from her when I became President-Elect of the AMS. She recently authored the book, A Lab of One’s Own: One Woman’s Personal Journey Through Sexism in Science. Prof. Jim Fleming has written the book, First Woman: Joanne Simpson and the Tropical Atmosphere; it describes the life of Dr. Joanne Simpson and the challenges she overcame to achieve spectacular heights, pun intended!  

When I came to the United States I was fortunate to train/work with Dr. Jagadish Shukla and his group at the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies. Dr. Shukla’s adviser at MIT was Dr. Jule Charney, his advisor was Dr. Carl-Gustaf Rossby. As I look back, it was amazing how I benefited from interacting with the top-notch scientists in our field like Dr. Suki Manabe, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics a few years back with two other climate scientists. I had the good fortune that my life intersected with such amazing people.

Dr. Anjuli Bamzai with Dr. Syukuro (Suki) Manabe and Dr. Anthony Broccoli.

When I joined the government, I had the opportunity to work with some of the best, who were really visionary. For example, Jay Fein, who passed away in 2016, set up some very big, ambitious projects like the Community Earth System Modeling project at NCAR. Ari Patrinos at DOE, Bob Correll at NSF, and Mike Hall at NOAA. I learnt something from each of these larger-than-life people in our field. I know it’s not all about luck, but having said that, I have been fortunate that I did meet some of the greatest. 

In India, my first advisor was kind of a renaissance person as well. He taught me to think big and bold, to seize opportunities from the world but also give back to society when the opportune moment arrives. To be strong about your convictions and proud of your achievements while at the same time being humble. I guess that was the culture that I came from. Certainly one should be assertive and one should speak candidly, while at the same time be open to learn and correct based on feedback. I think that if you let the arrogant side of your nature overcome you, then you’re going to stop learning, you’re going to stop keeping an open mind.

What are some of your priorities for your term as president, and for the AMS as a whole?

At AMS, we all come together as a Society because of a common kinship. For me, sustaining and enhancing a sense of camaraderie and networking amongst the various constituencies is a priority. Within and between the silos of science, practice, or services, there needs to be a lateral sharing of experiences through meetings and/or other events, through our publications. I would want to continue to enhance this so it results in a rich ecosystem which is attractive for the next generation.

The AMS has certain expertise to offer society, and we need to capitalize on the strengths of the AMS for society at large. How do we propagate that value chain through the various jigsaw pieces of an enterprise that is so large, and how do you put the puzzle pieces together so it yields successful outcomes?

The AMS community draws its historical lineage from the atmospheric and related sciences. However, we now know that the atmosphere is just one very important component of the Earth system, interacting with the ocean, the land, ecosystems, geology, and human systems. Understanding and responding to the system on a host of spatial and temporal scales is the grand challenge of our times. That’s the theme of the 2025 AMS Annual meeting in New Orleans. My theme is entitled, “Toward a Thriving Planet: Charting the Course Across Scales.” So local, regional, and global scales, from the weather/hydrology to climate. The state of Louisiana and the Gulf region are confronting problems such as loss of wetlands … so hopefully we will consider those issues a bit, engaging with the local community. 

I know it sometimes feels like unprecedented climate and environmental changes have already descended upon us and it is a hopeless situation. I think we still have to steady ourselves and think objectively about, what can we do best, and how can we contribute with our expertise, our talent pool and resources at hand. We can’t wish these problems away, neither will they be resolved right away. We need innovation, creative thinking, and sound solutions.

AMS 2024 Session Highlight: The Evolution of Observation: How the AMS Measurements Committee Can Better Serve the Community

A Town Hall at the AMS 104th Annual Meeting

With measurement techniques and systems rapidly evolving in response to a greater need for precise atmospheric and planetary surface observation, and technological advances allowing for observations of conditions where none were previously possible, there’s a growing need to engage our active AMS community to discuss the future of weather observing. That opportunity comes Thursday morning at a Town Hall by the AMS Committee on Measurements. Information will be presented regarding recent changes to the Committee, its current focuses, and plans for the future. Attendees at the AMS Annual Meeting this week in Baltimore are invited to participate in open discussion and provide feedback. Join us Thursday, 1 February at 12:15 p.m. U.S. Eastern for this session!

We spoke with the Town Hall’s organizer and speaker Andrew Schwartz of UC Berkeley to learn more.

What was the impetus for organizing this Town Hall Meeting?

Andrew Schwartz: We’ve had a lot of changes to our committee over the last several years and want to keep our community informed of what is occurring and what we’re planning. We also want to make sure that we’re accurately responding to the needs of our community and including them in our future activities.

What are some of the challenges that the Committee on Measurements hopes to address?

AS: We want to develop a better understanding of the community’s interests and needs to better guide our activities as a committee and develop more engaging content at our conferences and symposia.

What will AMS 104th attendees gain from the Town Hall?

AS: Attendees of the Town Hall will gain a better understanding of who comprises our committee, the work that we have been doing, and initiatives that we are working on for the future. They will also have the chance to provide feedback on our activities.

Featured image: Snowmageddon snowfall at Baltimore/Washington International Airport, taken February 6, 2010. Washington’s National Airport had 17.8″ while Dulles International Airport measured a whopping 32.4″ from the storm—the first of two intense East Coast snowstorms in less than a week. Image credit: NOAA.

About the AMS 104th Annual Meeting

The American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting brings together thousands of weather, water, and climate scientists, professionals, and students from across the United States and the world. Taking place 28 January to 1 February, 2024, the AMS 104th Annual Meeting is exploring the latest scientific and professional advances in areas from renewable energy to space weather, weather and climate extremes, environmental health, and more. In addition, cross-cutting interdisciplinary sessions explore the theme of Living in a Changing Environment, especially the role of the weather, water, and climate enterprise in helping improve society’s response to climate and environmental change. The Annual Meeting is being held at the Baltimore Convention Center, with online/hybrid participation options. Learn more at

Be There: GATE 50th Anniversary Celebration

GATE observing network. (From Zhang et al., 2022.)

Fifty years ago this summer, the most ambitious tropical field experiment ever attempted began along the coast of West Africa. Amidst the backdrop of the Cold War, GATE—the Global Atmospheric Research Program’s (GARP) Atlantic Tropical Experiment—successfully involved more than 5,000 scientists, technicians, and supporting staff from 72 countries in a campaign over the Atlantic Ocean to investigate the structure of the tropical atmosphere with emphases on tropical convective organization and the mutual interaction between convection and the larger scale flow. This enormous achievement will be celebrated Thursday, 1 February, at the 104th AMS Annual Meeting in Baltimore with a Town Hall Meeting, a luncheon, and three scientific sessions.

CELEBRATION EVENTSLocation: Holiday Ballrooms 1-3 (Second Floor, Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor)Times
Town HallThe GATE Experience and Beyond7-8 a.m.
SessionGATE 50th Anniversary Celebration I8:30-10 a.m.
Luncheon*GATE 50th Anniversary Luncheon12:15 – 1:30 p.m.
SessionGATE 50th Anniversary Celebration II1:45 – 3 p.m.
SessionGATE 50th Anniversary Celebration III4:30 – 6 p.m.
*The Luncheon is a ticketed event. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased through the Annual Meeting registration

The celebration includes GATE veterans who will share their experiences in planning and executing the field program, as well as speakers reflecting on how their careers were influenced by GATE and how other tropical field experiments followed GATE’s footprints to advance the science of tropical atmospheric convection and air-sea interaction. Visions for and planning of future tropical field experiments will also be discussed.

To learn more, we reached out to co-chairs Andrea M. Jenney of Oregon State University, Chidong Zhang of NOAA’s PMEL, and Terrence R. Nathan of UC Davis who provided the following responses.

What was the impetus for organizing this Town Hall Meeting and these sessions (aside from the 50th anniversary)?

To provide a platform for the Gaters (GATE veterans—only a few of them are still with us and they are in their 70s–90s) to tell the community how this historic field campaign was planned and executed, how it shaped the careers of the students and postdocs who participated, many of whom became leaders of our field, and how its impressive legacy continues to influence research today.

Who are the celebration events designed to attract and why?

Everyone, from the Gaters to current early career scientists who may have benefited from GATE but don’t know much about it.

What about the GATE observations make them an unmatched legacy in the atmospheric sciences?

It revolutionized our view of tropical deep convection from isolated hot towers to organized mesoscale systems.
The data have been used since to guide global model parameterization of atmospheric deep convection. It mobilized the international community to work together toward a common goal on an unprecedented and unsurpassed scale.

What has GATE taught us about conducting field research?

Political conflicts do not have to hinder scientists from working together. GATE took place during the Cold War, which left a substantial mark on it (GATE had to be relocated from the Pacific to the Atlantic). Nevertheless, scientists from both the East (including the USSR) and West came together, collaborated, and jointly conducted the field campaign.

Big science needs national and international collaborations and coordinations. No single funding agency or single country could support GATE on its scale. GATE has since remained as the grandest tropical field campaign in the atmospheric sciences ever.

Doing excellent science requires passions and fortitude. As the Gaters will attest to during this event, they went through tremendous hardships during GATE but they loved what they did and they met unanticipated difficulties with humor.

What will AMS 104th attendees gain from the town hall and sessions?

Some untold history of GATE. Many stories and personal reflections from the Gaters. How GATE inspired scientists of new generations. How the research community has continued the GATE legacy and is planning to visit the original GATE site in the Pacific that had to be abandoned because of geopolitics at that time.

About the AMS 104th Annual Meeting

The American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting brings together thousands of weather, water, and climate scientists, professionals, and students from across the United States and the world. Taking place 28 January to 1 February, 2024, the AMS 104th Annual Meeting is exploring the latest scientific and professional advances in areas from renewable energy to space weather, weather and climate extremes, environmental health, and more. In addition, cross-cutting interdisciplinary sessions explore the theme of Living in a Changing Environment, especially the role of the weather, water, and climate enterprise in helping improve society’s response to climate and environmental change. The Annual Meeting is being held at the Baltimore Convention Center, with online/hybrid participation options. Learn more at

Be There: Estimating Wind Speeds of Tornadoes and Other Windstorms

Tornado photo

By James LaDue, NOAA/NWS Warning Decision Training Division (symposium co-chair)

Did you know that the AMS is co-branding a standard with the American Society for Civil Engineers and that you can be involved as a member? For the past several years, both organizations have signed together to develop a standard on wind speed estimation for tornadoes and other severe storms. To learn more about this standard, and the methods it’s developing, the standards committee on Wind Speed Estimation is hosting a symposium this Thursday at the AMS 104th Annual Meeting, aptly named “Estimating Wind Speeds of Tornadoes and Other Windstorms.” In this conference you will learn more about how you can be involved in the process.

Ever since the EF scale was implemented in 2007, damage surveyors found reasons for improvement. They formed a grassroots stakeholder group in 2010 and published a paper in 2013 highlighting areas needing improvement. Then after the Joplin, MO tornado of 2011, an investigation led by NIST recommended that a committee be formed to improve the EF scale. But that’s not all there was to estimating wind speeds. New methods were maturing quickly to estimate winds in severe storms: methods such as Doppler radar, tree-fall patterns left behind tornadoes, probabilistic wind speed analysis forensics, multispectral passive remote sensing, and in-situ observations. Many of these methods can also be applied to other windstorm types.

The committee on Wind Speed Estimation, begun within the ASCE in 2015, is devoted to refining all of these methods into an ANSI standard (American National Standard).  Comprised of engineers, meteorologists, architects, forest ecologists, an arborist, and an emergency manager, we are now deep in the internal balloting phase of the standard’s individual chapters. While the ASCE provides the logistical support for our committee, the AMS was added and the standard co-branded under both organizations. The process by which a standard forms is one of the most rigorous vetting processes known in the STEM fields and often can take a decade or more. We’ve been conducting internal ballots for several years, and this may last a couple more. Once the internal balloting phase is over, the standard goes to a public comment phase.  

The Wind Speed symposium is designed to let you know how and why we have this standards process, how the methods are designed in the standard, and how you can be involved, especially when the public comment period commences. We have a panel discussion at the beginning to give you a chance to engage with the committee, followed by more in-depth presentations on the methods. There are also oral and poster presentations regarding new science coming out that could provide more advances in the standard and its application. We hope to see you there! 

Featured image: Photo of tornado with dust cloud near power lines in Matador, TX, taken 21 June 2023. Image credit: James LaDue.

The Estimating Wind Speeds of Tornadoes and Other Windstorms Symposium will be held Thursday, 1 February, 2024 at the AMS 104th Annual Meeting, in Baltimore and online. Learn more about the Symposium and view the program.