Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Climate Forecast Innovator John Roads
A key player in the rise of climate studies at Scripps, Roads developed fire weather forecasts and advanced climate prediction capabilities
Scripps Institution of Oceanography / University of California, San DiegoJohn Roads, one of a generation of climate researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego who took long-range climate prediction capability to new levels of sophistication, died following a two-year battle with leukemia on June 21, 2008, at UCSD's Thornton Hospital. He was 58 years old.
A research meteorologist, Roads directed the Experimental Climate Prediction Center (ECPC) at Scripps, which develops computational methodologies for predicting climate over long periods of time for a range of users including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He had taken over the program in 1986 from Jerome Namais, the founder of the Climate Research Group at Scripps whose success in recruiting talent and mentoring students is credited for developing one of the world's leading climate research programs.
Research meteorologist John Roads (standing, third from right) joined a team headed by Jerome Namias (seated at center) that elevated Scripps Oceanography's climate research program to a position of world leadership.
"John was wonderful to work with," said Tim Barnett, a research marine physicist at Scripps. "He had imagination and an enthusiasm that sparked the entire climate effort at Scripps. He was always positive about what could be done."
Roads graduated with honors from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1972, having majored in physics. He joined Scripps in 1977 as a postgraduate researcher after having received his Ph.D. in meteorology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that year. As a student of influential meteorology professor Ed Lorenz, Roads produced his doctoral thesis "Numerical Experiments on the Sensitivity of an Atmospheric Hydrologic Cycle to the Equilibrium Temperature." He would pursue the concepts outlined in that thesis for much of his research career.
"He was one of the mainstream meteorologists who was working hard to bridge hydrology and meteorology in the international community," said Scripps climate researcher Masao Kanamitsu. "I feel his experience and interest initiated during his Ph.D. years blossomed."
In November 1977, Roads became an assistant research meteorologist at Scripps. In addition to leading the ECPC, he led a variety of fire weather studies aimed at providing prediction tools to the U.S. Forest Service and other users. Roads also was involved with the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment, a World Meteorological Organization project to understand and model the global water cycle.
"He enjoyed work, but he also loved beer, movies, swimming, driving, and travel. He was a good boss to the people who worked under him," said Kanamitsu. "Lastly, he was a very strong person, who never complained during his long battle with leukemia. I miss him very much."
Roads is survived by his daughter Emily, Emily's mother Lori, wife Elena Orlova, stepdaughter Katherine, parents Grace and Paul, and siblings Paul Jr., Nancy, Cynthia, Marilyn and Carol.
Services will be held Friday, June 27, at 11 a.m. at the Church at Rancho Bernardo, 11740 Bernardo Plaza Court, San Diego, Calif., 92128.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to the John Roads Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will enable Scripps Oceanography graduate students to attend climate science conferences. Donations should be made to UC Regents and should reference the John Roads Memorial Scholarship fund. Checks can be sent to Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., # 0210, La Jolla, CA 92093-0210.
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Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at University of California, San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. The National Research Council has ranked Scripps first in faculty quality among oceanography programs nationwide Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today in 65 countries. The institution has a staff of about 1,300, and annual expenditures of approximately $155 million from federal, state and private sources. Scripps operates one of the largest U.S. academic fleets with four oceanographic research ships and one research platform for worldwide exploration.
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