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Joseph Smagorinsky, 88; Helped Create Computer Projections of Weather

October 01, 2005|From Associated Press

Joseph Smagorinsky, a meteorologist who developed influential methods for predicting weather and climate change, died Sept. 21 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, Princeton University announced. He was 88.

It was long theorized that observational weather data could be plugged into mathematical equations to predict what would come next, said George Philander, a professor of geosciences at Princeton.

But that theory could not be fully put into practice until the 1950s, when computers gained the power to process the complicated calculations.

Smagorinsky did much of that early work, Philander said.

Smagorinsky, along with Norman A. Phillips, former principal scientist at the National Weather Service, won the 2003 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth Science for studies that led to the first computer models of weather and climate.

Smagorinsky was also an early leader in the use of data to predict longer-term climate change, including global warming.

He held several positions with the U.S. Weather Bureau before founding the General Circulation Research Section in Washington, D.C., in 1955.

The federally operated facility was renamed the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in 1963, five years before it moved to Princeton's Forrestal Campus.

Smagorinsky joined the faculty of the university, where he helped develop a doctoral program in atmospheric and oceanic sciences. After his retirement in 1983, he continued as a visiting senior fellow until 1998.

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