Library News - November 2009
SSEC Employee News: November 2009
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Library News
by Jean Phillips


The Origins of Satellite Meteorology

The groundwork for the era of satellite observations of the Earth was laid in 1950 with the initial proposal to convene an International Geophysical Year (IGY). The year would in fact be an 18-month period, from July 1957-December 1958. The converners envisioned a coordinated effort by scientists across the globe conducting significant research; meteorology was one of many topics that would serve as a focus for the IGY.

Advances in rocket science in the 1940s and 1950s paved the way for the development of new instruments that would provide new measurements of the Earth's atmosphere and included many scientists, among them Verner Edward Suomi.

The photo exhibit chronicling these early developments, was created by the 50th anniversary planning committee and is now on display in the Schwerdtfeger Library. [Text by Leanne Avila]


From a Cornfield to Space: The Evolution of Suomi's Radiometer

Verner Suomi's major contributions to space engineering and the atmospheric sciences began in the late 1940s when, for his dissertation, he developed a method to study the heat budget of a cornfield. Building on that experiment, he and Robert Parent, a University of Wisconsin professor of electrical engineering, developed an instrument designed to measure the Earth's heat balance from a satellite. This instrument was successfully launched on Explorer VII on 13 October 1959.

Like many of Suomi’s instruments, this early radiometer was simple in design and could be calibrated by viewing the Sun, space, and the Earth in sequence from a spinning satellite. Suomi established that radiative energy fluxes within the atmosphere vary markedly due to the effect of clouds and other absorbing constituents. These early, important investigations were the first successful uses of a space platform to monitor the global energy budget and its variations.

Not only did the Suomi-Parent radiometer (or more accurately, "bolometer") fly as payload on Explorer VII, modified versions of the instrument continued to fly on subsequent satellites well into the 1970s. SSEC celebrated the 50th anniversary of satellite investigations of the Earth on 2 November at the Monona Terrace Convention Center.

Drop by the Library to see the hallway display, commemorating this important anniversary. At the same time, stop inside to see the 1:1 model of the Explorer VII satellite, built for exhibition at the 50th anniversary.


Research and information resources on the 2009 H1N1 outbreak

Created by staff at the UW Health Sciences Library, this guide brings together a range of resources on H1N1 aimed at various audiences. See also:


New E-Reports

Restructuring federal climate research to meet the challenges of climate change. The National Academies Press, 2009.

Science at sea: Meeting future oceanographic goals with a robust academic research fleet. The National Academies Press, 2009.

Scientific value of Arctic sea ice imagery derived products. The National Academies Press, 2009.

Uncertainty management in remote sensing of climate data: Summary of a workshop. The National Academies Press, 2009.


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