Karl Rawer

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Karl Rawer (born April 19, 1913) is a German specialist in radio wave propagation and the ionosphere who developed the analytical code to determine suitable frequency ranges for short wave communication by which the German forces successfully built-up their long distance communications during World War II.[1]

After studies of mathematics and physics in Freiburg and Munich (with Arnold Sommerfeld) he wrote under Jonathan Zenneck a thesis on partial reflection of radio waves in an ionospheric layer. Aware of this Johannes Plendl charged him to serve as adviser for the Shortwave communications of the German Luftwaffe, since 1943 for Navy and Army too.[2] Rawer's code assumes zig-zag paths between Earth and ionosphere.[3][4] Monthly predictions take statistically account of day-to-day variations.[5] Long term changes with the different Solar cycles is taken account of by Wolfgang Gleißberg´s prediction method.[6]

After the war Yves Rocard, then director of French Navy research, impressed by Rawer's code, engaged him as "directeur scientifique" (1946–56) of his newly founded "Service de Prevision Ionospherique".[7] Later (1956–69) Rawer, now serving in Germany as director of "Ionosphären-Institut Breisach" switched to space research. With his team he participated in the first French scientific rocket launch 1954 in the Sahara and later they had experiments aboard rockets of different nationality.[8] From 1958 to 1964 he was "professeur associe" at the University of Paris. Rawer held several offices in the international space research organisation COSPAR. As director of "Fraunhofer-Institut für physikalische Weltraumforschung" (1969–79) he became the father of two German/Us satellites (AEROS, 1972 and 1975).[9] He was actively engaged in the International Geophysical Year (gold button 2007) and follow-up international projects. In the International Union of Radio Science (URSI) he served with William Roy Piggott as co-author of the still valid booklet on ionogram reduction and was vice-chairman and chairman of the ionospheric committee 1966–72.[10] He is the father and longtime chairman of the International Reference Ionosphere that since 1999 is International Standard. Rawer is doctor honoris causa of the university at Düsseldorf, corresponding member of the International Academy of Astronautics and of "Oesterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften Wien".


  1. ^ Karl Rawer: "Meine Kinder umkreisen die Erde" (autobiography), Herder, Freiburg Brsg. 1986,158 pp.
  2. ^ Karl Rawer;"Ausbreitungsvorhersage für Kurzwellen mit Hilfe von Ionosphärenbeobachtungen",Archiv.Elekt.Übertragung 5 1951 p.154ff
  3. ^ Karl Rawer: "The Ionosohere", Unger, NewYork 1956
  4. ^ Karl Rawer: "Propagation of decameter waves (H.F.band)", in: "Meteorological and Aeronomical Influences on Radio Wave Propagation", Pergamon Press, Oxford 1963, p.216ff
  5. ^ Karl Rawer and Kurt Suchy: "Radio Observations of the Ionosphere", in: "Handbuch der Physik", V.49/2, Springer, Berlin 1967, pp1-546
  6. ^ Wolfgang Gleißberg: "Die Häufigkeit der Sonnenflecken", Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1952
  7. ^ Yves Rocard: "Memoires sans concessions", Grasset, Paris 1988
  8. ^ Karl Rawer: "Wave Propagation in the Ionosphere", Kluwer, Dordrecht 1993, ISBN 0-7923-0775-5
  9. ^ Karl Rawer: "Some results of the AEROS missions", Space Research XVI, Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1976
  10. ^ W.R. Piggott and Karl Rawer: "URSI Handbook of Ionogram Interpretation and Reduction", Elsevier, Amsterdam 1961 Translations into Chinese, French, Japanese and Russian are available


  • Karl Rawer: "Meine Kinder umkreisen die Erde" (autobiography). Herder, Freiburg i. Brsg.,159 S. 1986, ISBN 3-451-08226-8
  • Bodo W. Reinisch: "Karl Rawer´s lfe and the history of the IRI". Adv. Space Res. 34, 1845R 2004
  • Dieter Bilitza: "35 Years of International Reference Ionosphre - Karl Rawer´s legacy". Adv. Radio Sci. 2, 283, 2004

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