Carl-Gustaf Rossby

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Carl-Gustaf Rossby
Born Carl-Gustaf Arvid Rossby
28 December 1898
Died 19 August 1957
Nationality Swedish
Fields Meteorology
Doctoral advisor Vilhelm Bjerknes
Doctoral students Chaim L. Pekeris
Horace R. Byers
R. Montgomery
H. Seiwell
R. Simmers
Harry Wexler
M. Neiberger
V. Starr
D. Fultz
Reid Bryson
Hsiao-Lan Kuo
G. Platzman
T.-C. Yeh
G. Cressman
Y.-P. Hsieh
Joanne Malkus
C. Newton
J. Freeman
D. Rex
Bert Bolin
E. Eriksson
Aksel C. Wiin-Nielsen
B. Doos
Jerome Namias
Jule Gregory Charney

Carl-Gustaf Arvid Rossby[pronunciation?] (Stockholm 28 December 1898 – Stockholm 19 August 1957) was a Swedish-U.S. meteorologist who first explained the large-scale motions of the atmosphere in terms of fluid mechanics.

Rossby came into meteorology and oceanography while studying under Vilhelm Bjerknes in Bergen in 1919, where Bjerknes' group was developing the concept of polar front, and University of Leipzig. He also studied at the Lindenberg Observatory, Brandenburg where upper air measurements by kite and balloon were researched. In 1921, he returned to Stockholm to join the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute where he served as a meteorologist on a variety of oceanographic expeditions. While ashore between expeditions, he studied mathematical physics at the University of Stockholm.[1]

In 1925, Rossby was granted a fellowship from the Sweden-America Foundation "to study the application of the polar front theory to American weather". In the U.S. Weather Bureau in Washington, DC he combined theoretical work on atmospheric turbulence with the establishment of the first weather service for civil aviation.

In 1928, he became associate professor in the Aeronautics Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Shortly after this became the first U.S. department of meteorology. In 1931 he also became a research associate at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. His interests during this time ranged over atmospheric thermodynamics, mixing and turbulence and the interaction between oceans and the atmosphere.

On 9 Jan 1939,[2] he became a US citizen and in that same year, assistant director of research at the U.S. Weather Bureau. His appointment as chair of the department of meteorology at the University of Chicago in 1940 began the period in which he turned his attention to large-scale atmospheric motions. He identified and characterized both the jet stream, and Rossby waves in the atmosphere.

During World War II, Rossby organised the training of military meteorologists, recruiting many of them to his Chicago department in the post-war years where he began adapting his mathematical description of atmospheric dynamics to weather forecasting by electronic computer, having started this activity in Sweden using BESK. In 1947 he became founding director of the Institute of Meteorology in Stockholm, dividing his time between there, Chicago and Woods Hole. After the war he visited Professor Hans Ertel, an old friend, in Berlin. Their cooperation led to the mathematical formulation of Rossby waves.

Between 1954 and his death in Stockholm in 1958, he championed and developed the field of atmospheric chemistry. His contributions to meteorology were noted in the December 17, 1956 issue of Time Magazine. His portrait graced the cover of that issue.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Carl-Gustaf Rossby: A Study in Mentorship
  2. ^ Rossby, Carl Gustav Arvid (9 Jan 1939). U.S. District Court. Boston, MA: Petition No: 192302; Admission: 4560990. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bert Bolin, ed. (1959). The Atmosphere and Sea in Motion. Rockefeller University Press. 

External links[edit]