12C.3 The Monsoon Expeditions: The Legacy of Jay S. Fein (Invited Presentation)

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 2:15 PM
Salon J (Hilton) (Austin, Texas)
Peter Webster, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Prior to the 1970s, the abiding concern in meteorology was the development of numerical prediction models, initially for the extratropics. The need to monitor and understand tropical phenomena grew rapidly when it became clear that errors arising from the neglect of the tropics led to a rapid degradation of extratropical forecast skill. Thus, for very practical reasons, an improved tropical database and a keener understanding of tropical phenomenology was required.

This need led the global community to foster a series of international expeditions. Following GATE (the GARP Atlantic Experiment) an even more challenging program was proposed. This was MONEX (the Monsoon Experiment) with its summer and winter components. Dr. Jay S. Fein played a central role in MONEX that possessed major logistical and infrastructure challenges. During my talk, I will summarize both the scientific results of MONEX and where it has led us nearly 40 years later. I will emphasize the role played by Jay Fein prior to the expedition, during and afterwards.

The field phase lasted a number of months and involved hundreds of scientists and support personnel. As a Director in the National Science Foundation (a position he was to hold for over 30 years), Jay made MONEX happen! He garnered funds, helped negotiate intricate and delicate international agreements and placed experienced Regional Directors in both New Delhi in India and Kuala Lumpur to facilitate operations and coordinate international efforts. He encouraged young scientists to take part in the field phase ensuring that future funding would be available for analysis. Jay helped create a WMO fellows program to gain experience in the expeditions. A number of developing country scientists benefited from the experience and went on to hold senior positions.

MONEX was, of course, the first of a number of expeditions with which Jay Fein strongly supported. CEPEX (Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment) and INDOEX (the Indian Ocean Experiment) were two expeditions that collectively sought negative feedbacks countering the impacts global warming. He was also a proponent of TOGA COARE (TOGA’s Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment) an expedition designed to understand better the complex interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere in the tropical warm pool. He was a strong supporter of the development of a strong national climate modeling program and an advocate for increased funding of climate research.

As he once said in an interview “It’s a happy man who loves his work, and I love my work”. His positive attitude was infectious. He served as a mentor to many scientists around the world furthering, with counsel and wisdom, their careers. He had an abiding love for Indian culture, a sense of which can be found in his book written Pam Stephens “Monsoons”. This is a collection of essays that encompasses the science of monsoons with surveys of literature, history, economics and the need and potential utility of monsoon predictability.

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