Jule Gregory Charney

Jule Gregory Charney
Born January 1, 1917
Died June 16, 1981
Alma mater UCLA
Scientific career
Fields Meteorology
Institutions Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisor Jørgen Holmboe[1]
Doctoral students

Jule Gregory Charney (January 1, 1917 June 16, 1981) was an American meteorologist who played an important role in developing weather prediction. He developed a set of equations (The Quasi-Geostrophic Vorticity Equation) for calculating the large-scale motions of planetary-scale waves. He gave the first convincing physical explanation for the development of mid-latitude cyclones known as the Baroclinic Instability theory. He is considered the father of modern dynamical meteorology.[4][5]


Charney studied physics at UCLA where he completed his masters in 1940 and Ph.D. in 1946.[6]

Career and research

In the 1950s, he was involved in early research on numerical weather prediction together with John von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey. He and von Neumann brought over from England a recent Ph.D. in meteorological calculations, Bruce Gilchrist, to work on this task using the institute's computer, the IAS machine.[7] Their collective work paved the way for the founding of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

From 1956 until his death in 1981, Charney was a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Charney Report

In 1979 Charney chaired an "ad hoc study group on carbon dioxide and climate" for the National Research Council. The resulting 22-page report, "Carbon dioxide and climate: A scientific assessment", is one of the earliest modern scientific assessments about global warming. Its main conclusion can be found on page 2: "We estimate the most probable global warming for a doubling of CO2 to be near 3°C with a probable error of ± 1.5°C." This estimate of climate sensitivity has been essentially unchanged for over three decades, e.g., the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (2007) says that "equilibrium climate sensitivity is likely to be in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a best estimate value of about 3°C. It is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values substantially higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded, but agreement with observations is not as good for those values."

Honors and awards

The American Meteorological Society presents an award named "The Jule G. Charney Award". The Award is granted to individuals "in recognition of highly significant research or development achievement in the atmospheric or hydrologic sciences".

See also


  1. 1 2 Jule Gregory Charney at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. Shepherd, Theodore Gordon (1984). Rossby waves and two-dimensional turbulence in the presence of a large-scale zonal jet (PhD thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. OCLC 12621534.
  3. "TWAS profile" (PDF). The World Academy of Sciences. 2016.
  4. Biography of Jule Charney at American Geophysical Union
  5. National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir of Jule Charney
  6. "DR. JULE G. CHARNEY IS DEAD AT 64; WORLDWIDE LEADER IN METEOROLOGY". The New York Times. New York City. 18 June 1981. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  7. Gilchrist, Bruce, ""Remembering Some Early Computers, 1948-1960"" (PDF). Archived from the original on December 12, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-12., Columbia University EPIC, 2006, pp.7-9. (archived 2006) Contains some autobiographical material on Gilchrist's use of the IAS computer beginning in 1952.
  8. Schneider, Stephen. Encyclopedia of Climate and Weather. p. 178.
  9. Rittner, Don. A to Z of Scientists in Weather and Climate. p. 38.
  10. Rittner, Don. A to Z of Scientists in Weather and Climate. p. 38.
  11. "Winners of the IMO Prize". World Meteorological Organization. Archived from the original on 22 November 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
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