Dr. Harry Wexler
Dr. Harry Wexler was one of the great figures of Twentieth Century
Meteorology. His vision encompassed our earth and its atmosphere
and even extended into our solar system as he was among the
first to consider the use of meteorological satellites and to
be concerned with the atmospheres of other worlds. An inkling
of the breadth of his interests is included in a memorial issue
of the "Monthly Weather Review" encompassing Volume 91, Numbers
10-12, published for the period October through December of
1963. In itself, these three combined issues of the Monthly
Weather Review constitute a magnificent tribute to one of our
Nation's greatest meteorologists. Thirty Contributions
in Memory of Harry Wexler were written by a number
of the leading meteorologists of the era and dedicated to Harry
Wexler's memory. Within many of these articles are reminiscences
of Dr. Wexler and his contribution to the area of meteorology
under consideration or his role in establishing various observation
systems. He was no desk-bound science bureaucrat as he traveled
the world in search of answers to many of the pressing meteorological
questions of the day. Among his scientific adventures, he was
the first scientist to intentionally fly into a hurricane for
the express purpose of understanding its nature. He was not
bound to tradition and was quick to grasp the promise of new
technologies. His influence and leadership throughout the meteorological
community is displayed below in the selected quotes from the
Contributions in Memory of Harry Wexler
the untimely death of Dr. Harry Wexler on August 11, 1962, and
the shock that came from sudden loss of a warm friend and distinguished
colleague, there were many suggestions by his close associates
who desired to establish suitable memorials to his scientific
work and his personal qualities. Among the suggestions was one
that an issue of the Monthly Weather Review be devoted
to scientific contributions in his honor by his associates.
So numerous were his scientific friends throughout the world
who could have contributed creditable papers that initial invitations
were limited to his co-workers in the Bureau. Even so, the number
of enthusiastic acceptances exceeded the capacity of the Review;
indeed, the initial response required expansion of the memorial
issue from the single number originally planned to the combined
issue of three numbers.
Authors of the scientific papers in this issue feel honored
to dedicate this work in memory of Wexler and his inspiring
leadership and his vigorous role in advancing geophysical sciences.
It is fitting that the papers in this memorial treat a wide
variety of subjects; they are dedicated to a scientist whose
interests were broad and who himself made significant research
contributions to many of these subjects. It is also appropriate
that these memorial contributions appear in the Monthly
Weather Review because here Dr. Wexler published several
of his earliest scientific papers. Moreover, during many years
of the latter part of his Weather Bureau career, first as Chief
of Scientific Services Division and finally as Director of Meteorological
Research, he found time for general sponsorship of the Review
in addition to his many other activities. His continuing interest
in the Review and his lively encouragement of its staff
nurtured its rejuvenation as a scientific journal after many
years of war-imposed curtailment in scope of the periodical.
As Wexler accepted the expanding scientific responsibilities
of his office and its many ex officio associations and shouldered
the inevitable additions to his administrative and supervisory
work over the years, he did not neglect his own research work.
Amazingly, his output increased, an accomplishment that is apparent
in the chronological listing of his publications in the bibliography
in this issue. He believed that a scientist's career as an administrator
should never completely replace his pursuit of independent scientific
Dr. Wexler was too occupied with his scientific work to spend
much time talking about his philosophy of science, but those
of us who worked closely with him knew his lively curiosity
for knowledge and his in-born desire to understand. Balancing
his enthusiasm was a scientific maturity that steered him away
from the pitfalls of pseudo-scientific fads. He believed that
progress comes through attention to fundamentals. An admirer
of Benjamin Franklin's scientific work, Wexler faithfully practiced
what Franklin had advised: "He who would master nature must
obey her laws. He must learn her laws and then obey them."
In a brief Foreword, it is not possible to capture in words
the vigor and influence of a man like Wexler. In personality,
he was warm and dynamic. He liked people. In devotion to science,
he was untiring in his efforts and uncompromising in pursuit
of facts and fundamentals. He gave himself wholeheartedly to
advancement of atmospheric sciences through his own studies,
through organization of seminars and symposia, through conferences
and committees, nationally and internationally through trips
to Antarctica and other remote places, and in many and various
other activities. His fine qualities are remembered by all who
knew him and his contributions will always be reflected in the
pages of science history.
U.S. Weather Bureau
In: "Bibliography of the Publications of Harry Wexler,"
pp. 477-481. Concerning inclusion of abstracts in the Bulletin
of the American Meteorological Society,
Finally and most significant is the debt of gratitude we owe
Dr. Wexler for his encouragement in the early days of meteorological
abstracting - in fact, he was the one who gave us the initial
impetus to begin abstracting in 1946 when the abstracts were
published in the "Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society."
"Interactions of Circulation and Weather Between Hemispheres,"
by Jerome Namias, pp. 482- 486.
the coverage of meteorological data over the world increases
and hopefully reaches the stage recommended in the report detailing
the "World Weather Watch" in which Dr. Harry Wexler played a
major role, meteorologists may reinstitute the search for interactions
with the help of synoptic as well as statistical tools, thereby
providing more concrete evidence to assist in the formulation
of physical theories." P. 482
the hopes for truly global weather maps and predictions, so
frequently expressed in the late Dr. Wexler's stimulating conversation,
papers, and talks may someday become a reality and form another
testimonial to his foresight." P. 486.
"A Spectral Study of the Warming Epoch of January-February
1958" by Sidney Teweles, pp. 505-519.
1958 the late Dr. Harry Wexler assigned to the writer the task
of organizing the Stratospheric Meteorology Research Project
(SMRP) to prepare a series of stratospheric charts and perform
research on the upper atmosphere. By the time the map analysis
group was phased out in 1962, daily 100-mb. and 50 mb. charts
and three-times-monthly 30 mb. charts for the 24 months, July
1957 to June 1959 had been completed." p. 505. "This research
was made possible by an assignment to the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology for which Dr. Wexler was largely responsible."
"A Possible Effect of Atmospheric Circulation in the
Daily Variation of the Earth's Magnetic Field" by Oliver
Reynolds Wulf, pp. 520-526.
author gratefully acknowledges the encouragement received from
Dr. Harry Wexler in this work." P. 526.
"Specification of Precipitation from the 700-Millibar
Circulation," by William H. Klein, pp. 527-536.
late Dr. Harry Wexler was one of the first meteorologists to
relate large-scale precipitation regimes to the upper-air circulation.
In 1938, he and Namias found that abnormalities of summer rainfall
were closely aligned with moist and dry tongues on monthly mean
isentropic charts." P. 527.
"The Southerly Low-level Jet Systems Delineated by the
Weather Bureau Special Pibal Network of 1961," by Walter
H. Hoecker, Jr., pp. 573-582.
applied the inertial boundary theory of Charney and Morgan on
ocean currents to the southerly low-level jet and in a discussion
with the author indicated that the theory would apply to flow
along the Great Plains from the north as well, and produce a
northerly low-level jet." P. 573.
author's initial interest in the southerly low-level jet was
stimulated and encouraged by the late Dr. Harry Wexler during
the preparation of his referenced work on the southerly jet
and also as a result of his long-standing interest in the subject.
The detailed southerly jet analyses presented here are the product
of Dr. Wexler's agressive imagination and planning."
"Summary of High Level Turbulence over the United States,"
by DeVER Colson, pp. 605-609.
author wishes to express his thanks to the late Dr. Harry Wexler
who suggested that this research program be undertaken and who
furnished very helpful suggestions and encouragement during
the study." P. 609.
"The Problem of the Martian Yellow Clouds,"
by F. A. Gifford, Jr., pp. 610-612.
first extensive meteorological investigations of other planets
were undertaken starting just about 15 years ago at Lowell Observatory.
The Project for the Study of Planetary Atmospheres was sponsored
at first by the U.S. Weather Bureau, through its Scientific
Services Division, which was then headed by Dr. Harry Wexler.
Perhaps only those comparatively few meteorologists who participated
in these early studies can fully appreciate the keen foresight
and remarkable scientific intuition that motivated Wexler's
active encouragement of this project in days when research funds
were so difficult to come by. The following remarks on the problem
of Martian yellow clouds are offered in part as a reminder of
the continuing validity of one of Wexler's favorite theses,
that meteorologists can with profit study the atmospheres of
other planets in order to improve their understanding of the
behavior of the earth's atmosphere."
"The Variable Appearance of the Earth from Satellites,"
by Sigmund Fritz, pp. 613-620.
article is an outgrowth of Dr. Harry Wexler's renown in the
scientific world. Because he was associated with scientists
in many disciplines, he was asked to supply a chapter, dealing
with earth-satellite observations, for an astronomy book about
planetary atmospheres. He suggested that I write such a chapter.
After an early draft had been written, the editors decided not
to produce the proposed book after all. That early draft, although
intended for an astronomy book, has been revised and shortened
into the present article. In a sense, articles about the appearance
of the planet are continuations of Dr. Wexler's own forward-looking
concepts on this subject. And so Dr. Wexler's influence continues."
"Cloud Patterns Part I: Some Aspects of the Organization
of Cloud Patterns," by V.J. Oliver and M.B. Oliver,
a memorial to Harry Wexler it is appropriate to include a discussion
of the patterns formed by convective cloud cells because although
Wexler wrote a number of papers on the organization of large-scale
circulation of the atmosphere, he was also concerned with whether
individual convection cells are randomly spaced or whether they,
too, are organized into patterns. It was his conviction that
they must be organized, as a result of the interaction of physical
processes and the terrain; and if they are organized, it seems
reasonable that they should be predictable, once the physical
basis of the patterns is discovered. Moreover, organized clouds
should indicate the presence of mesoscale horizontal atmospheric
eddies. Wexler was interested in determining how such eddies
add or subtract meteorological properties (such as angular momentum
or kinetic energy) to the general circulation. Two of us among
the many who leaned heavily on Wexler's advice and enthusiastic
encouragement would like to present here as a tribute to him
the results of our examination of cloud patterns which we undertook
during the summer of 1961." P.621.
summarize, we have found the clouds in patterns, as Wexler thought
we would; but to forecast cloud patterns, their development,
and motion, we need to understand more about atmospheric energy
sources, sinks, transports, and exchanges, and more about how
the upper flow and surface phenomena organize clouds into patterns.
For comprehensive cloud and weather prediction, we eagerly await
the fruition of Wexler's 'World Weather Watch', regular observations
from the whole globe at all levels, spot reports from unmanned
sea stations, ships, surface land stations, upper-air sondes,
radar, and planes, tied together into one cohesive picture by
data from satellites." P. 629.
"Picture of the Month," by L. F. Hubert, pp.
Monthly Weather Review series "Picture of the Month" is continued
here as a contribution in memory of Dr. Harry Wexler. The picture
chosen for this issue is particularly appropriate. It displays
the sort of unsolved problem that always stimulated Dr. Wexler
- the problem of air-sea interaction and the endless complications
of atmospheric hydrodynamics." P.633.
who knew Dr. Wexler can appreciate how this problem would have
whetted the appetite of his inquiring mind. I would like to
point out that, in a way, he has bequeathed this fascinating
puzzle to us, because we have been able to recognize it and
to define its extent only with the meteorological satellite,
an advancement so vigorously sponsored by him." P. 634.
"The Temporal and Spatial Variations in the Planetary-Scale
Outgoing Long-Wave Radiation as Derived from TIROS II Measurements",
by Jay S. Winston and P. Krishna Rao, pp. 641-657.
of Dr. Harry Wexler's major interests in meteorology was in
the atmospheric heat sources and their relation to the general
circulation. In his strong advocacy of meteorological satellites
in the mid-1950's he foresaw the possibilities of measuring
time variations in the radiative energy supply received by the
earth-atmosphere system to see how they were related to changes
in the planetary flow patterns over a broad spectrum of time
periods ranging from days to many years. He was hopeful that
satellite data would reveal connections between heating in equatorial
regions and circulation changes in temperate latitudes of both
hemispheres and that they would also reveal more about interactions
between the circulation regimes in the two hemispheres.... It
is clear that we are now on the threshold of many broad-scale
investigations of the relationships between the heat budget
as measured by satellites and the general circulation. To a
great extent the stimulation of research in this area stemmed
from Wexler's enthusiastic conviction that meteorological satellite
data would provide new answers to some very fundamental questions
about the behavior of the circulation of planet Earth." P. 641.
"Average Annual Solar Radiation Per Day over Northern
North America," by Torrence H. MacDonald, p. 658.
in 1946, Dr. Harry Wexler appointed Sigmund Fritz as the supervisor
of a solar radiation and upper air research unit at the Weather
Bureau Central Office. Early planning by Dr. Wexler and S. Fritz
resulted, among other benefits, in a great increase in the number
of solar radiation measuring stations in the United States.
In July of 1962 there were about 85 such stations - more than
twice as many as in 1946 when expansion began. It seems appropriate
that the Wexler Memorial Contributions should contain a condensation
of the data produced by the solar radiation network with which
Dr. Wexler was so intimately associated." P. 658.
"A Discussion of Indirect Sounding Methods with Special
Reference to the Deduction of Vertical Ozone Distribution from
Light Scattering Measurements," by S. Twomey and H.
B. Howell, p. 659.
at the behest of Dr. Harry Wexler, one of the writers embarked
a couple of years ago on an investigation which, it was hoped,
would produce a new and superior method for deducing the vertical
distribution of ozone from purely ground-based passive measurements.
results up to now have shown that the projected methods, while
comparable and potentially superior to existing ground-based
passive methods, can never produce detailed distributions with
the resolution of fine scale structure of which direct (balloon-borne,
for example) sounding is capable." P. 659.
"Mauna Loa Observatory: The First Five Years,"
by Saul Price and Jack C. Pales. Pp. 665-667.
seems especially appropriate that a collection of papers dedicated
to Dr. Harry Wexler should include this account of an enterprise
so intimately associated with him..." P. 665.
Observatory staff reported directly to Dr. Wexler; and although
MLO [Mauna Loa Observatory] was but one of his many responsibilities
as Director of Meteorological Research, he gave it always a
special measure of his interest and attention, and helped see
to its continued existence. He visited the Observatory often,
for Honolulu was a way station between Washington and the many
destinations to which his activities took him; and he seldom
failed, despite the press of other business, to leave time for
the flight to Hilo and the drive to MLO. He took intense pleasure
in the ecology of the lush rain forest, and found in the bizarre
landscape of the upper mountain, on which the Observatory was
the only reminder of the world below, renewed confidence in
the promise of so remote yet accessible site.
he foresaw, the years have brought a wide and increasing use
of MLO's facilities and data and a growing awareness of its
potentialities..." P. 666-667.
"Evidence of Geographical Differences in Ice Nuclei
Concentrations," by Dwight B. Kline, pp. 681 -686.
The investigation was undertaken with the encouragement of the
late Dr. Harry Wexler who was especially instrumental in fostering
use of the facilities at Mauna Loa Observatory..." P. 686.
"An Analysis of Hurricane Cleo (1958) Based on Data
from Research Reconnaissance Aircraft," by N. E. La
Seur and H. F. Hawkins, pp. 694-709.
September 14, 1944, a little more than one year after the first
aircraft flight into a hurricane, Dr. Harry Wexler (then a Major
in the Army Air Corps) participated in what may be called the
first research reconnaissance flight into a hurricane. In his
published account of the mission, which describes the data collected
(largely visual observations and qualitative physical impressions)
and gives his interpretation of their significance in terms
of hurricane structure, Wexler arrived at a conclusion which
was truly prophetic: "One is led to the conclusion that the
major portion of this hurricane cloud was caused by a strong
but narrow area of ascending air near the center of the storm
and that outside this area, descending air was found."
result was partly fortuitous since the penetration was made
in the left-rear quadrant of a mature hurricane which was accelerating
northeastward after recurvature, the very circumstances under
which this type of structure is most easily perceived from qualitative
observations. Wexler was quite aware that conditions observed
on one particular flight might not be representative of all
sectors of all hurricanes at every stage in their life cycle,
but he must be credited with the courage to present the interpretation
suggested by these meager data even though it was completely
at variance with the accepted models of that time."
"A Note on Vertical Motions in the Region of the Antarctic
Circumpolar Current," by Feodor Ostapoff, pp. 727-729.
discussions on the nature of the Antarctic Polar Front (Antarctic
Convergence) with Dr. Wexler, in connection with his work, stimulated
the author's interest in these problems. Generally, it is agreed
that relatively strong vertical motions exist in the region
of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current..." P. 727.
"The Weather and Circulation of July, August, and September
1963...," by James F. O'Connor, pp. 737-748.
Harry Wexler's interest in large-scale circulation and weather
anomalies was well known. He was instrumental in initiating
this series of articles in January 1950. Despite his numerous
responsibilities, he often expressed interest, made comments
and suggestions, and relied on these articles for briefing and
reference to past events.
tribute to Dr. Wexler's foresight in many areas of atmospheric
science, especially in the exploitation of electronic computers,
most of the illustrations in his article were computed and drawn
by machine, as is true of many charts routinely prepared at
the National Meteorological Center..." P. 737.