October 1, 1960 |
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
|Institutions||National Center for Atmospheric Research
Center for Severe Weather Research
|Alma mater||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (S.B., 1982; S.M., 1982; Sc.D., 1991)|
|Thesis||Forcing Mechanisms of Thunderstorm Downdrafts (1991)|
|Doctoral advisor||Earle Williams|
|Other academic advisors||Raymond Pierrehumbert|
|Known for||Weather radar, tornado, and hurricane research|
Life and career
Wurman attended Radnor High School in suburban Philadelphia. He earned a S.B. in physics and interdisciplinary science in 1982, a S.M. in meteorology in 1982, and a Sc.D. in meteorology in 1981, all from MIT. His masters thesis was The Long Range Dispersion of Radioactive Particulates and his doctoral dissertation was Forcing Mechanisms of Thunderstorm Downdrafts. He moved to Boulder, Colorado to work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and later to Norman, Oklahoma where he was a tenured faculty member at the University of Oklahoma (OU). He founded the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR) in 1998, which operates the Doppler On Wheels (DOW) radars. Bluestein returned to Boulder in 2001.
Wurman created the DOW mobile radars which observe tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and other phenomena from close range. He invented meteorological bistatic radar multiple-Doppler networks, and the Rapid-Scan DOW, and holds several patents related to bistatic and DOW technology. He founded BINET Inc. in 1995. He is also the discoverer of sub-kilometer hurricane boundary layer rolls, and wrote the pioneering papers on mapping tornado winds, multiple vortices, and other tornado-related phenomena. Wurman observed the fastest winds and the largest tornado circulations.
Wurman has authored and co-authored many scientific publications relating to hurricane and tornado dynamics and weather radar technology including two articles in Science, articles in the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, Monthly Weather Review, the Journal of Oceanic and Atmospheric Technology, Weather and Forecasting, and others. He was a principal investigator for VORTEX2, the field research phase of which occurred from 2009-2010. He was lead author of a controversial article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society analyzing the potential impacts of a major tornado crossing various urban areas. He leads the ROTATE tornado observational project every spring and hurricane intercepts in the fall. He manages the DOW radar network which are a National Science Foundation (NSF) Lower Atmospheric Observing Facility. His scientific work and DOW projects have been sponsored by NSF, as well as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States Forest Service (USFS), the United States Department of Energy (DOE), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and other agencies of the U.S. government, as well as by The Discovery Channel, and the National Geographic Society, among others.
Wurman is a member of the USA Science & Engineering Festival's Nifty Fifty, a collection of the most influential scientists and engineers in the United States that are dedicated to reinvigorating the interest of young people in science and engineering.
In popular culture
Wurman has appeared in numerous television shows and his work, particularly with the DOWs, and is cited in numerous popular and technical books about weather. He is most well known to the general public as the "scientist" in The Discovery Channel's reality series Storm Chasers, where he led a group of storm chasers conducting research during tornado season. His scientific research style is often shown clashing with other chasers who are not government funded. He was also featured on National Geographic Channel's Tornado Intercept and The True Face of Hurricanes, as well as in the IMAX film Forces of Nature. He's also been seen in several other documentaries and shows including those on PBS (Nova), NHK, BBC, History Channel, and The Weather Channel (TWC), and on Dateline NBC, CBS' 48 Hours, Larry King Live, Nightline, and Good Morning America. Popular articles describing his work have appeared in Discover, Scientific American, New Scientist, The Economist, Biography, Newsweek, Time, FHM, Self, The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, and many other publications.
- Grazulius, Thomas, (2003) Tornado.
- Guinness Book of World Records (2007)
- CSWR DOW site
- VORTEX2 website
- ROTATE website
- Joshua Wurman on line cv
- Allen Press