Jon Wieringa 1938-2019

Jon Wieringa. 1938-2019
Jon Wieringa 1938-2019 (photo: private, with permission of Jon’s family)

Jon Wieringa, one of the founders of the European Meteorological Society (EMS), died on 1 November.

In 1991 Jon visited the headquarters of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in Boston to find out more about its certification programme. During the visit he discovered that there was little known about the meteorological societies in Europe. That prompted him to search for more European meteorological societies beyond the few he already knew about. By the end of 1991 he identified nine societies and four more by the end of 1992. Jon recognised that there would be benefits in meteorological societies cooperating, if only they were aware of each other existence.

In 1993 the first European Conference on Applications of Meteorology (ECAM) was held in Oxford, UK. At Jon’s suggestion, it was arranged that a meeting of representatives from meteorological societies would take place during the conference. Jon contacted the various societies and the meeting attracted representatives of 17 societies. This fruitful meeting was the starting point for a series of events that eventually led to the establishment of EMS at the fourth ECAM in Norrköping in 1999.

After the EMS had been formally established, Jon played a key role in the group that was tasked with examining important issues such as the governance, finance and activities of the EMS. Once these issues had been addressed, the EMS began to play a key in supporting cooperation within the European meteorological community. Jon made major contributions to the establishment and growth of the EMS. Now the EMS consists of 38 Member Societies and 29 Associate Members.

The EMS is a lasting legacy of Jon’s far-sightedness, enthusiasm and commitment to enhancing cooperation within the European Meteorological community.

More information about the founding of the EMS can be found in two paper entitled “Associating weather societies across Europe” published in “Weather”.

Bob Riddaway

 

Obituary by the Board of the Dutch Meteorological Society, NVBM (translation)

In Memoriam

On Friday, November 1st 2019, Jon Wieringa, honorary member of the NVBM and co-founder of the EMS, died unexpectedly. He entered the service of air pollution researcher at KNMI in 1965. Trained as a physicist, Jon realized that special equipment was needed to measure the spread of air pollution in a turbulent atmospheric boundary layer. Among other things for quickly measuring the three components of the wind speed. And he was involved in developing the trivane. He became involved in the Flevo Lake project and with his trivane he collected a unique data set that was recently used (Jansen and Teuling, 2019).

Jon grew into an international expert in the field of wind climatology and roughness classification of land surfaces and his work in this area has been cited a lot. This also applies to the book about the wind climate in the Netherlands that he wrote together with Peter Rijkoort. To correct wind observations for influences of local obstacles, he developed a method for determining the ‘potential wind’. He introduced the “blending height” of 60m for this. A contribution that should not be underestimated to border layer research in the Netherlands is his efforts with regard to the installation of the 200 m high measuring mast in Cabauw. To this day, the showpiece of the KNMI and of the Dutch boundary-layer research world in general. The Dutch Science Foundation recently awarded a substantial subsidy for the expansion of the instruments around and around this Cabauw tower. When the mast existed for 20 years he wrote an article with Aad van Ulden about the results achieved so far.

Jon was aware that knowledge transfer via lectures to students was important. Certainly when he made the switch to Wageningen University. However, he also gave lectures in his KNMI days: as a guest lecturer at the IHE and as a part-time professor both at the technical university Delft. He has also advocated an education committee within EMS.
He left KNMI in 1992 because Jon was appointed full-time professor of Meteorology at the Agricultural University of Wageningen, succeeding Bert Wartena at the Department of Meteorology. In addition to the regular education of this group, he also focused on providing international education for the training of Agrometeorologists (see, for example, the WMO report by Wieringa and Lomas, 2001). His switch to Wageningen was partly due to considerable cuts at the KNMI. Unfortunately, the University of Wageningen did not escape major cuts and reorganisations. Partly in view of his age, Jon decided to take early retirement. By resigning, he paved the way for a merger with another Wageningen Air Quality group. He was thus indirectly at the cradle of the current Meteorology and Air Quality Group, which, under the leadership of his successor, Bert Holtslag, grew into a scientific group with scientific world fame.

Jon Wieringa was closely involved in the establishment of the NVBM. At the time, the ‘B’ stood for ‘Professional’, partly because he was a great champion of certifying professional meteorologists. He saw the NVBM as the guardian of this profession. In the initial period, one could only become a member of the NVBM after approval of a selection committee. He expressed very explicitly what drove him in his inaugural address entitled “WEATHER AMATEURS, METEOROLOGISTS, AND BOTCHERS”. Wageningen colleague professors who were also involved in meteorology later on were also called bothers.

A very important achievement of Jon Wieringa was the fact that he was strongly involved in the founding of the European Meteorological Society (EMS). The large number of participants in the annual EMS conferences shows the importance of EMS as the umbrella organisation to bring together European meteorologists and researchers. He recently wrote two papers with René Morin in Weather about the history of the EMS (2018). Throughout his career, Jon has advocated thorough literature research and thorough reporting of scientific work. He considered the role of a well-functioning library essential for research. During the last meeting of the KNMI pensioners’ union on 29 October 2019 in the Biltse Hoek – that is 3 days before his death – he still expressed his concern about the reorganisations of the KNMI library. His concerns were about the relocation of the library and the reduction of the workforce. This shows that Jon remained fighting until the end.

His thoughtful manner of speech and his pipe speech are etched in the memory of the people who knew him. In the crown year 2018 section of the KNMI pensioners’ union, he almost proudly claimed that his cardiologist had allowed Jon to continue smoking a pipe for de-stressing. He was therefore provocatively proudly photographed in his own garden next to a trivane and with pipe. Jon was a gifted amateur pianist and he accompanied himself on the guitar as he played translations of French Chansons at parties. Jacques Brel’s Les Bourgeois, among others, was on his repertoire.

The board of the NVBM wishes his wife, two daughters and his four grandchildren all the strength in dealing with this loss.

Gert-Jan Steeneveld, On behalf of the NVBM board.
This in memoriam was prepared with contributions from
Gerard Cats, Bert Holtslag, Leo Kroon, Arne Spekat, Heleen er Pelkwijk and Henk de Bruin.

References

EMS, 2018: https://www.emetsoc.org/about-ems/history/
Jansen, Femke A. and A. J. Teuling, 2019: https://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci-discuss.net/hess-2019-393/
Van Ulden, A. P., and J. Wieringa, 1996: Atmospheric boundary layer research at Cabauw. Bound.-Layer Meteor., 78, 39–69
Wieringa J. (1973 b): Applications of turbulence measurements over Lake Flevo. D.Sc. Thesis, Utrecht University, Netherlands.
Wieringa J. en Lomas J. (2001): Lecture notes for training agricultural meteorological personnel. WMO-No.551, 2nd ed., 196 p., ISBN 92-63-12551-1.


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