Fjortoft Awarded I MO Prize CaPE Experiment Proceeds in Florida Ragnar Fjortoft of Norway was awarded the thirty- More than 100 scientists, technicians, engineers, and sixth International Meteorological Organization (IMO) graduate students from all over the country have Prize for his outstanding work in the field of meteorol- gathered in Florida for the Convection and Precipita- ogy with special recognition of his work relating to tion/Electrification (CaPE) experiment, in which ob- numerical weather prediction. Fjortoft received the servers will track thunderstorms to study electric fields award from the World Meteorological Organization in the clouds, storm evolution, and rainfall particles. Executive Council in Geneva during the executive The experiment runs from 8 July to 18 August 1991. council meeting, held 24-29 May 1991. Scientists can expect thunderstorms on most days during the observation period because central Florida Fjortoft trained as a scientist and meteorologist has the nation's highest annual thunderstorm aver- before joining the National Meteorological Service in age, with 100 thunderstorm days per year. 1939. Ten years later he joined J.G. Charney and J. The CaPE scientists hope to discover how precipi- von Neuman in their pioneering work on numerical tation growth and charge transfer lead to electrified weather forecasting at the Institute of Advanced Study clouds and lightning. Evidence from laboratory and in Princeton, New Jersey. This research led to the first field studies suggests that colliding ice crystals in numerical weather prediction experiment in 1950. thunderstorm clouds is the primary mechanism of In 1955, Fjortoft was appointed director of the cloud electrification; however, no direct airborne mea- Norwegian Meteorological Institute, and also appointed surements have been made during these studies. permanent representative of Norway with WMO, a Scientists will fly into the thunderstorm to identify the position he held until 1978. clouds' detailed precipitation and electrical structures. Fjortoft realized at an early stage that the basis for Doppler radars will define air motions within and near accurate forecasting depended not only on math- clouds, and local residents throughout central Florida ematical/physical models but also on a sufficiently will launch weather balloons that will measure tem- dense global observational network. He proposed to perature, humidity, and winds in the atmosphere. the Third World Meteorological Congress in 1959 that This study will generate data that may be used in WMO should assume a greater responsibility for many ways. The Federal Aviation Administration will developing a global observing system. Four years use information from the experiment to help develop later the Fourth Congress adopted the concept of a techniques for forecasting the onset of thunderstorms World Weather Watch with its observing, telecommu- and windshifts as they impact terminal and flight nication, and data-processing components. operations. NASA and the air force will use the im- Fjortoft initiated a Norwegian program using auto- proved short-term forecasts as well. For example, in matic meteorological stations on drifting buoys in the past 2 years 12 out of 16 space shuttle launches reaction to the need for observational data in that at the Cape Canaveral Kennedy Space Center have country. Subsequently, Norway was one of the major been cancelled or delayed due to lightning alone. contributors of drifting buoys that were deployed in the A mesoscale forecast model will be developed from Southern Hemisphere during the Global Weather satellite, radar, and wind profiler data. The model will Experiment in 1978/79. make regional cumulus convection predictable within Fjortoft was born in Oslo in 1913. He received his 2-12 hours, it is hoped. bachelor's in 1940 and Ph.D. in 1951 from Oslo Doppler radars data, thermodynamic balloon sound- University. He was appointed professor of meteorol- ings, and aircraft measurements will be used to inves- ogy at the University of Oslo in 1967, and has re- tigate the origin and structure of local wind systems mained on staff at the university for 25 years. that lead to Florida's thunderstorms. Fjortoft is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Also, radars will measure, and aircraft will pen- Sciences and former chairman of the Norwegian etrate, warm-based convective clouds to determine Geophysical Association. He holds a first class Knight- the size and distribution of raindrops. The data will be hood of St. Olav's Order for his outstanding contribu- used to develop satellite techniques to measure rain- tions to meteorology. fall over the world's tropical regions. He has published numerous papers in scientific Overall, knowledge gained in this experiment will and research journals, and remains actively engaged help scientists more precisely predict the location, in scientific activities even now, several years after his time, and severity of upcoming storms. • retirement. Bulletin American Meteorological Society
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Aug 1, 1991
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