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NASA Scientist Wins AMS Award

Photo of Dr. William Rossow

Having your head in the clouds can have benefits, at least for NASA scientist, William B. Rossow, who among other things made his name studying Earth's clouds and how they impact climate. Rossow, a researcher at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, has won the 2005 Verner E. Suomi Award given by the American Meteorological Society, the nation's leading professional society for scientists who study the atmosphere and related sciences.

The award will be given to Rossow at an awards banquet on Jan. 12 at the 2005 American Meteorological Society meeting in San Diego, Calif.

In addition, Rossow has been selected as a Fellow of the Society. This last honor is so rare that only two-tenths of one percent of membership, or only two out of every 1000 members, are approved as Fellow each year. The Soumi Award and the honor of Fellow are given to scientists for recognition of outstanding contributions over many years to sciences that deal with the atmosphere, or relationships between the atmosphere and the ocean or the atmosphere and the Earth's water cycle system.

The AMS said that Rossow is being recognized "for tireless efforts using multi-satellite observations to study clouds and their role in radiation and climate."

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Rossow has been at the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies since 1978. His research interests focus on satellite remote sensing of the Earth's climate and the atmospheres of Earth and other planets. Early in his career, his work focused on clouds and processes in the skies of Venus and Jupiter. He worked as a member of science teams for a space mission that sent the Pioneer spacecraft to Venus in 1978. Pioneer Venus entered that planet's orbit in December 1978, more than 6 months after its May launch. Rossow also was part of the team that sent the Galileo spacecraft to Jupiter in 1989. Having traveled approximately 4.6 billion kilometers (about 2.8 billion miles), the spacecraft eventually disintegrated in Jupiter's dense atmosphere in September 2003.

Rossow's later work has focused on clouds, radiation and the climate of Earth. Over the past 20 years, he has completed the first global survey of cloud thickness and the sizes of particles that contribute to the formation of clouds. He also made the first global survey of the height of clouds using satellite technology.

Throughout his extensive career, Rossow has published more than 137 papers, mentored countless Ph.D. students and post-doctoral researchers and developed two data-support Web sites on clouds and their relation to climate and cloud system studies. Rossow earned his Bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics at Hanover College and his master's degree and Ph.D. at Cornell University. He has received NASA's Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal and is also a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

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Leslie McCarthy, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, N.Y., 212-678-5507,