14 January 2020

American Meteorological Society Celebrates 100 Years At Annual Meeting in Boston

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Who could have imagined a century ago that the American Meteorological Society would celebrate its 100th-anniversary under high security with bomb-sniffing dogs in an era where the planet’s changing climate was a worldwide threat. Such is the case here on Boston but that aside, it is an amazing event with perhaps more atmospheric scientists together in one place at the same time ever. This meeting is actually many conferences all happening at the same time, with the Broadcast Meteorology conference just one of them.

How the science has changed over the last 100 years is almost indescribable, but I can tell you that as I celebrate 40 years as an on-air forecaster in three weeks, I could never have imagined how the technology would change. Perhaps the best way to give you a flavour of this event is to share some of the tweets from those who are here. They range from high school students to undergrads to top climate researchers (Like Ben Santer and Kerry Emanuel), meteorologists who work on television, and a former director of the Environmental Protection Agency. My friend Matthew Cappucci from the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang gave another one of his amazing presentations Monday morning. All of us have one thing in common though, a sense of wonder about the things we see in the sky and what falls from it.

I must also plug my friend Sean Potter at NASA who has finished his book on Cleveland Abbe who was the first to make forecasts in America based on atmospheric science. I have a signed copy but you should check it out. It is a great tale of science and history, and one you likely know little about. It is not a story that only a weather geek would love, it is a fascinating history and I loved my talk with Sean about the weather on the day Lincoln was shot, an event covered in the book.

Some messages I saw on Twitter today are below:

New science is out as well and the graph below shows the steadily rising ocean heat content. This is perhaps the best way to measure the Earth’s temperature since far more heat is stored in the ocean than in the atmosphere.

I remember seeing one of these in operation in 1979 and used a similar unit in 1979 at KJRH-TV in Tulsa. WSR57 radars were in use until at least 1990!!

One last thing: Almost every meteorologist here was hoping that we would be treated to a big January Nor’easter with heavy snow this week, but it was not to be. The conference began Sunday with the warmest temperature ever recorded in January in Boston. Records here go back to 1873 (The first Grant administration!) Never, has Boston had two days in a row over 70ºF but it did just that Saturday and Sunday.

No wonder climate change is the elephant in every room of the Boston Convention Center this week.