Early Research Efforts

The productivity and diversity of the meteorological research in the 1930s and 1940s was quite remarkable. True to their philosophies, Dr. Landsberg and Dr. Neuberger applied the mathematics, physics, and geophysics in which they had been trained to a daunting array of atmospheric problems. Dr. Neuberger's resourcefulness and skill in designing and working with instruments were particularly valuable to a faculty with a total equipment and supply budget of $200 and a laboratory that had only one instrument of each type for student use. Considerable ingenuity was required to provide adequate equipment for laboratory instruction and the ambitious research program of the two faculty members.

Dr. Landsberg published on a wide range of topics; ranging from earthquake prediction and the design of an instrument for measuring mine subsidence, to the study of rock falls in mines, and the use of special glass developed by Dr. Landsberg and Dr. Woldemar Weyl (later Evan Pugh Professor of Ceramics) to measure ultraviolent dosimetry. Additional research included: the influence of pressure patterns on deep- focus earthquakes, the statistical evaluation of cyclone movement and precipitation cycles, rock-core testing by radioactive methods, a major study of atmospheric suspensions with applications to both fog and dust in underground mines, a new method for measuring gravity, the use of solar energy for melting ice, optical measurement of sky light using a polariscope designed and constructed by Dr. Neuberger, the documentation of local tornadoes, and pioneering aerial photography of an unusual "Northern Light" display in central Pennsylvania in September 1938. In the period from 1934 to 1941, Dr. Landsberg presented no fewer than fourteen papers before technical societies.

Poet Neuberger, asked in his poem 'Compensation,' "How will the sky feel when the flight of birds is only shadowed trace across the fog?"

This question suggests Dr. Neuberger's intense drive throughout his professional career to understand the mechanics of the atmosphere. In his student days he spent a year camping in a tent on the North Sea island of Sylt measuring fog conditions, and later he took fog readings at the Mid-State Airport with a fog tube he had developed to predict fog formation. During World War II, he was concerned with the effect of atmospheric conditions on aviation so in 1943 he wrote an article on Meteorology specifically tailored for pilots. In 1948 he developed an inexpensive method of obtaining temperature, humidity, and pressure readings above 5,000 feet by use of a large balloon.

Dr. Neuberger stated many times that the public had to have an understanding of atmospheric conditions if they were to appreciate weather forecasting and maintaining an unpolluted atmosphere. His text, Weather and Man (1948), with F. Briscoe Stephens, explained just what weather was, what we needed to know about weather, and how it affected our daily lives. Another early text, Introduction to Physical Meteorology (1951), helped students solve theoretical and mathematical problems in the field. One of his more unique adventures drew wide public interest. He studied the "weather conditions" of more than 12,000 paintings of outdoor scenes from the last few centuries, hypothesizing and illustrating how the climatic environment of the artists influenced the hues and general meteorological features of the paintings. Between these adventures, he wrote and published more than two dozen poems and several articles on such topics as meteorological imagery in language, music and art.

As a result of Dr. Neuberger's work, the Penn State Department of Meteorology is a national leader in the development of observational equipment and research themes. Beginning in 1952, with the appointment of Dr. Hans Panofsky, continuing with the arrival of Alfred K. Blackadar in 1955, and with the cooperation of John L. Lumley and Hendrik Tennekes in Penn State's Department of Aerospace Engineering, the Penn State faculty in atmospheric turbulence achieved a prominence and reputation that became world renowned. Another research theme was the development of Dynamic and Synoptic Meteorology by such faculty members as Edwin F. Danielsen, Robert T. Duquet, and Hans Neuberger. In the mid-1960s, with the arrival of John A. Dutton, research in general Circulation Meteorology with a more rigorous and formal use of mathematics applied to Meteorology began. More recently, Department Head Dr. Dennis W. Thomson has been responsible for the development of instrumentation research.

Penn State is on the cutting edge of modeling the atmosphere. Professors Thomas T. Warner and Richard A. Anthes, introduced numerical weather prediction models that have been applied operationally to the prediction of atmospheric circulation systems that produce severe weather. Another family of modeling studies emphasized non-linearly in prototypes with fewer degrees of freedom. Some models have stimulated fronts and contributed to the models of very complex processes. Combined, these models are at the very forefront of dynamical systems research and are helping to reveal common aspects of almost all the systems encountered on the face of the Earth. (back to menu)