Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


AOSS Mourns Loss of Professor Wiin-Nielsen

Posted: April 30, 2010

AOSS Mourns Loss of Professor Wiin-Nielsen

Prof. Wiin Nielsen,  recruited to the University of Michigan from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)  in 1963 as the first chair of the Department of Meteorology and Oceanography, died April 26, 2010 in his native Denmark. Under his chairmanship, the department became very strong in atmospheric dynamics.

In 1974, Prof. Wiin-Nielsen left the University of Michigan to return to Europe as the first director of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). In 1980, he became the Secretary-General of the UN World Meteorology Organization. He was the director of the Danish Meteorological Institute, 1984 – 1987, and moved to the University of Copenhagen in 1988, where he retired from in 1994. In 1988 he returned to the University of Michigan for a year as a visiting professor.

Prof. Wiin-Nielsen was president of the International Commission for Dynamic Meteorology, 1971 – 1979; a member of the joint organizing committee of the Global Atmospheric Research Program, 1973 – 1979; chair of the European Space Agency working group on Earth Sciences and Science Advisory committee, 1977 – 1979; president of the ECMWF, 1986 – 1987; and, from 1990 – 1992 he was the chair of the NATO panel on the Science of Global Environmental Changes.

In 1998 he was honored with the most prestigious award conferred by the European Geophysical Society, when they elected him as an Honorary Member. He was also elected a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, and was a member of the American Geophysical Union, Swedish Academy of Sciences, Royal Meteorological Society, Finnish Academy of Arts and Sciences, Danish Academy of Technical Sciences, Royal Danish Sciences, New York Academy of Sciences and Tau Beta Pi.

He was known widely for his global approach to the study of the atmosphere and climate. Prof. Wiin-Nielsen was recognized world-wide for his exceptional contributions to geophysical research encompassing the entire field of dynamic meteorology with respect to observation, modeling and theory; his notable contributions to meteorological education by his many books and educational programs; and his important contributions in making the findings of scientific research accessible to the educated public and to build bridges to the general culture.


Tamas I. Gombosi
Rollin M. Gerstacker Professor of Engineering
Chair, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences

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