Friday, March 05, 2010

JoAnne Simpson 1923-2010

Dr. Joanne Simpson who lead the TRMM mission to measure tropical rainfall has died. In the hurly burly of the comments section here there was a wonderful tribute from one of the anonymice, which touches on the unseemly rush to use her eulogy as a club, but captures her spirit

Very sorry to hear Dr. Simpson died.

She was a dedicated and determined scientist.

She planned a trip to climb in Nepal at age 70. She had to have knee surgery not long before. She recuperated and went on her trip as scheduled.

She ran long meetings at this time, so long and uninterrupted I couldn't sit. I nicknamed her (entirely to myself) "Iron Butt". I had to get up and stretch, but then I hadn't begun my day with a long run, although Simpson had.

She promoted and was Project Scientist on the TRMM satellite, which measured tropical rainfall and developed understandings of it.

That a memo of hers after retirement was ripped out of context and used to provide a misleading impression of her was sad. She was an experimentalist and didn't delve into climate models -- or anything to do with computers. Like most scientists, she did not give equal weight all aspects, her understanding was deeper in some areas than others. She didn't understand why "scientific arguments" were being played out in newspapers -- naive about the anti-AGW hacks.

As a female, she pioneered in science and achieved with an iron will in spite of obstacles that would have daunted most men.
Eli thinks we want to keep any discussion seemly, but he can't resist this story she told at the link above
“I had never in my life been at a place before where anyone else other than the secretaries and me used the ladies room,” says Simpson. She recounts that the second day she arrived at Goddard Space Flight Center, she went to the ladies room to freshen up and found to her surprise two other women scientists washing their hands and discussing meteorology. Never before had she encountered a working environment so friendly to women.

There was a 2003 AMS Festschrift for Dr. Simpson, but the articles are not on line although the abstracts are. Links to two of them can be found below

The Research of Dr. Joanne Simpson: Fifty Years Investigating Hurricanes, Tropical Clouds, and Cloud Systems. W.-K. Tao, J. Halverson, M. LeMone, R. Adler, M. Garstang, R. Houze Jr., R. Pielke Sr., and W. Woodley

From Hot Towers to TRMM: Joanne Simpson and Advances in Tropical Convection Research. Robert A. Houze Jr.


The Blob said...

UAH has switched to 5.3

Anonymous said...

"Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receive any funding, I can speak quite frankly. [...] The main basis of the claim that man’s release of greenhouse gases is the cause of the warming is based almost entirely upon climate models.

We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system. We only need to watch the weather forecasts. [...] The term “global warming” itself is very vague. Where and what scales of response are measurable? One distinguished scientist has shown that many aspects of climate change are regional, some of the most harmful caused by changes in human land use.

No one seems to have properly factored in population growth and land use, particularly in tropical and coastal areas.

[...] But as a scientist I remain skeptical. I decided to keep quiet in this controversy until I had a positive contribution to make. […] Both sides (of climate debate) are now hurling personal epithets at each other, a very bad development in Earth sciences."

Anonymous said...

Ann McElhinney - Not Evil, Just Wrong; part 1

Anonymous said...

Oh Dr. Pielke [Sr.] doesn't know what to do:

On Now THIS is interesting: Pielke on Dr. Joanne Simpson Anthony Watts quote-mines Joanne Simpson under the false pretence of an 'extract' as has been mentioned previously by Phil Clarke. Immortalised here: [] [or why all good mice should always check the ellipses, one never knows what lies they may conceal!] Now Watts links to Climate Science: Roger Pielke Sr. Research Group News >> TRMM
But that page isn't loading today and it wasn't yesterday. Which to cynical little me, seems like Pielke Sr. may have been caught red-handed with his fingers in the propaganda machine, and is wondering what to do.

Paraphrased from Sir Walter Scott, (1771 - 1832).
Oh what a tangled www we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!

Random mouse

dizzy said...

A good person & scientist who was side-swiped. My favorite pioneer woman sceintist is E.C.Peilou, but I rate Simpson right up there & I'm glad to have had a shot at defending her when. My interpretation is pure speculation.

One of the quotes as presented here & by Inhofe --
“Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical.”
- Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, [...]

The actual quote preceding the "I remain sceptical"
"What should we as a nation do? Decisions have to be made on incomplete information. In this case, we must act on the recommendations of Gore and the IPCC because if we do not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and the climate models are right, the planet as we know it will in this century become unsustainable. But as a scientist I remain skeptical. "

The entire email she sent is here -

I can speculate on her skepticism. Her career has been in meteorology, As a prominent weather-scientist, of specifically cloud behavior, she has been frustrated by the inability of climate scientists to incorporate her theories of cloud behaviour into their longer term & larger-scale models. She has contributed to the understanding of the trade winds, el Nino & hurricane development and, as any scientist, she is in love with her theories. So, just like Shaviv and his cosmic rays, she thinks that a climate science that doesn't incorporate her work is incomplete and the conclusions possibly wrong. The possiblity of incorporating her work may be why NASA had kept her on so long - [she is 85]
However, she is hopeful that recent work will do that. [see email above]

A career profile. She's a real scientist, quite distinct from folks on this list whose skepticism takes the form of "show me the money".