The World According to GARP: Construction of a Global Meteorology, 1960–1980

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Monday, 18 January 2010: 4:00 PM
B313 (GWCC)
Erik M. Conway, JPL/California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

The middle of the twentieth century witnessed a great age of scientific exploration. Unlike most of the explorations of the 19th century, this one was not based on national expansion. Instead, it was a product of Cold War scientific internationalism. Called the Global Atmospheric Research Program, at its height in the mid-1970s it involved contributions from seventy nations. GARP's purpose was the development of global weather prediction, and it sponsored large-scale field experiments designed to improve understanding of tropical circulation, energetics, and the Indian monsoon so that these could be better modeled. Its founder was the United States, whose scientists sought global data for their model research, whose politicians found it useful to accede to their demands, and whose military sought global prediction for its own use. Its accomplishment was the construction of a global meteorology around the technologies of satellites and numerical models. In 1980, GARP transformed itself into the World Climate Research Programme, in recognition of both the completion of its original mission and of the emergence of new scientific questions to pursue.