June 20, 2007, 1:36 am News

Tributes from USA and New Zealand to the late co-founder of the Coalition, Professor August H.(Augie) Auer jnr, whose recent sudden death was a shock to all who had the great fortune to know him.

US Meteorologists’ Tribute to Augie Auer

On 7 July 2007, this was submitted for publication in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

August (Augie) Henry Auer, Jr, 1940-2007

Augie was born in St Louis on 10 Jun 1940 and died in Melbourne Australia 67 years later while celebrating his 67th birthday and 35th wedding anniversary with his beloved wife, Susan, and family. The cause of death was a heart attack.

Augie was the consummate synoptic meteorologist. He learned his trade at St Louis University where he received a BS in Professional Meteorology in 1962. He advanced his meteorological skills at Colorado State University where he received a MS degree in Atmospheric Science in 1965. At CSU he participated in the NE Colorado Hail Project under the direction of Richard Schleusener. Augie´s role in the hail project was to ride in the back seat of an AT-6 flown by Wayne Sand as Wayne flew the aircraft back and forth through the updrafts at the cloud base of hailstorms.

Augie was the "data recording system". Using a kneeboard, tape recorder, and paper and pencils, he kept detailed notes of the flight track based on visual references from windmills, reservoirs, roads and cities. During each pass he kept track of the temperature, updrafts, cloud base height, lightning frequency, CCN spectra using an Aitken Nuclei counter, and the occasional hail encounter. He also kept track of the on/off times for the AgI cloud seeding generators located of each wing tip of the AT-6. He relayed his data and location to John Marwitz, who was observing the storms from ground based radar systems located just east of Fort Collins, CO and from Atmospherics Inc.´s (Tommie Henderson´s) radar located at New Raymer CO.

At night he would meticulously transcribe and reduce his notes to a neat data set. He often fell asleep on the data, because of the lack of oxygen from flying at 10 to 12 kft for 3 to 4 hours. Augie will be remembered for his meticulous record keeping and detailed data based on the most rudimentary of measurement systems.

The data from the Aitken Nuclei counter along with data from a thermal diffusion cloud nuclei counter provided the data for Augie´s MS thesis. Under the direction of Pat Squires, Augie estimated the vertical variation of CCN. From these unique data, estimates were made of the vertical fluxes of air and water vapor into hailstorms and the precipitation efficiency of severe thunderstorms. These results are still cited as the standard values.

In 1966 Augie worked with Don Veal as a consultant to the Elk Mountain Project at the University of Wyoming. Don had just completed the Elk Mountain Observatory and needed meteorologists. In 1967 Augie joined Veal, followed shortly by John Marwitz. The combination of Veal, Auer, and Marwitz along with excellent engineers and technicians like Ken Endsley, Dennis Knowlton, Pat Kelly and Larry Irving quickly led to the first airborne atmospheric science data system with real time data display.

The first system was installed on the UW Twin Beech (C- 45). With input from Auer, the engineers soon produced excellent thermal diffusion cloud nuclei counters, a cloud gun for accurately measuring the cloud droplet spectra, and a decelerator for the aircraft within which excellent Formvar slides could be used to capture ice crystal images.

Again Augie kept meticulous notes on the cloud droplets, ice crystals, and ice nuclei at Elk Mountain while living atop the mountain in the cap cloud for days at a time. His results showed that ice crystals grow at about one micron per sec and the onset of accretional growth occurs when ice crystals are about 100 micron in diameter. A few simple calculations revealed that the typical precipitation process requires about 1000 sec from the nucleation of ice to snow on the ground. Since the transit time through the Elk Mountain cap cloud was only about 300 sec, there was no chance to increase the snow pack at Elk Mountain by cloud seeding as hoped by sponsors of the research.

By monitoring the ice nuclei at Elk Mountain and moving an AgI cloud seeding generator along the road upwind of Elk Mountain and normal to the airflow, Augie showed that the horizontal diffusion angle of the AgI plume was only 7 to 10 degrees.

In 1968 the directors of the Eden-Farson irrigation District (in Wyoming) came to the University seeking help to conduct a cloud seeding program on the Eden-Farson watershed. This watershed is located on the southern edge of the Wind River Mountains. Augie and others at UW designed an elegant but simple cloud seeding program based on their Elk Mountain results. An AgI cloud seeding generator was mounted on a small trailer along with a tank of helium. On days when snow was expected, the trailer was located upwind of the watershed. The operator released hourly pibals and tracked them for three min or until they entered cloud base. The estimated azimuth and elevation angle was recorded. The mean sub-cloud wind was thus determined and the trailer was relocated until the watershed was downwind of the seeding location. This elegant, but simple technique assured that if there was supercooled water in the cloud, it would be seeded with silver iodide ice nuclei. Thirty years later they were still seeding the clouds and a simple target-control analysis revealed that they had increased the runoff by 11%, significant at the 1% level. All this was based on the initial work by Augie.

In 1968 Augie and others at UW convinced Pete Summers that the Alberta Hail Project "needed" the Wyoming Twin Beech and the Wyoming crew to help investigate the "Weak Echo Region (WER)" concept. The Alberta Hail Project had recently installed a world-class 10cm radar and could quickly project the radar images onto a map. When Veal and Augie made their first pass over Cow Lake, Alberta and reported updrafts of 5 mps, a quick projection of the radar data revealed that the updrafts were indeed beneath a large WER. "Thus the McGill WER religion was verified" according to Walter Hitschfeld. Alex Chisholm, John Marwitz, Marianne English, and Charles Warner were able to complete their PhDs at McGill University based on the WER concept verification first measured by Augie Auer.

In the 1980s Augie was the lead UW scientist in Project METROMEX. Downwind of St Louis, MO a significant increase in precipitation had been documented. The objective of METROMEX was to explain the precipitation anomaly. Roscoe Braham argued that the increased CCN released by the city modified the precipitation process. Others argued that it was caused by the heat island effect whereby increased sensible heat occurred over the city. Augie was able to obtain permission from the numerous towns and cities making up St Louis proper so that he could make early morning low-level flights at 500 ft over the St. Louis metropolitan area. Imagine being awakened at 4 am by a low flying Twin Beech! Augie´s data revealed that the increased sensible heat released by the city was offset by decreased latent heat because the rainfall went into the storm drains and was not returned to the atmosphere as water vapor or latent heat. The equivalent potential temperature over St Louis was significantly less than over the surrounding country. Although it was never resolved which hypothesis was correct, we are partial to Augie´s argument.

As a professor at UW Augie insisted that his students learn all the three letter designators for the nearby weather stations and also learn the idiosyncrasies of the weather at each of these stations. He was a stickler for appreciating the subtle patterns in the upper levels. He spent 22 years on the faculty of the University of Wyoming. Students loved him since he could relate to them and convey to them a working understanding of forecasting and the science of meteorology - and he genuinely cared about each student. Many of Augie´s students went on to become accomplished weather forecasters. Augie knew how to forecast weather better than anyone in Wyoming and Colorado. Learning from such a master was a privilege for his students.

Following a very productive career at the University of Wyoming, Augie moved to New Zealand in 1990 where he worked for the New Zealand Weather Service for eight years as their chief meteorologist. He was tasked with improving and updating the technical competence of the MetService weather forecasting staff. He also provided frequent media liaison between the MetService and the public during major weather events. His accurate interpretations endeared him to the New Zealand public.

In 1998, after leaving the MetService, he became the TV weatherman on TV3 in Auckland. Augie was an instant hit on TV. Augie was well known by everyone in New Zealand. In addition to being an extremely competent meteorologist, he was an accomplished entertainer, master of ceremonies and musician. He didn´t sell soap, he presented the weather like a professor. He explained new terms once and then used them freely. His audience appreciated being talked up to. When President Bill Clinton did his around the world victory tour in late 1999, he acknowledged Augie Auer for getting his airplane safely into New Zealand. When Marwitz and his wife and later when Sand and his wife had occasion to tour New Zealand, they each planned their next day´s activities based on Augie´s forecast. Everybody in New Zealand seemed to know our friend, Augie.

In 2006 Augie was instrumental in forming the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. The Coalition was chaired by Rear Admiral Jack Welch and consisted of 13 well known New Zealand Scientists. The Coalition was concerned that the dire predictions being made with respect to global change were not borne out by the data. Augie was the primary spokesman for the Coalition for climate matters related to global change. As with everything else in his life, Augie was totally committed to this cause even though it is counter to many in the field.

This would not be complete without speaking of the beautiful relationship witnessed between Augie and his wife Susan. We believe Augie is in heaven and that in his passing, his legacy and that with his beautiful wife Susan serves as a precious guide for many of us to try and live by. Together they have been models of integrity, devotion, generosity, kindness, and love. To see Augie and Susan look at each other, hold hands, laugh, live passionately together... will forever remain inspirations in our lives.

John Marwitz, Wayne Sand, and Don Veal

Earlier tributes

The New Zealand
Climate Science Coalition
Hon Secretary, Terry Dunleavy MBE, 14A Bayview Road, Hauraki, North Shore City 0622
Phone (09) 486 3859 - Mobile 0274 836688 - Email -

Obituary –                      11 June 2007
Professor August H. (Augie) Auer jr

This sudden loss of Augie Auer is a colossal blow not just to his family and friends and his colleagues in the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, but to everyone in New Zealand who has a regard for truth and the role of science,” said Owen McShane, a co-founder with Mr Auer of the coalition, which they formed in April last year to challenge official pronouncements about man-made global warming.
“Augie was greatly feared by the warmists because he was able to combine a wealth of scientific knowledge and experience with a personable way of explaining the complex issues involved in a way that ordinary people could understand. He was not just a truly great climate scientist, he was a warm and caring human being. He was also patient and unflappable, often in the face of vicious personal abuse from opponents desperate to silence him. He was a living model of the Christian virtue of turning the other cheek
“It’s easy for those of us born and bred Kiwis to forget that Augie was someone who became a proud New Zealander by choice. There was never a day when he did not express his pride in being a New Zealander, ever grateful for the privilege of being able to live here.
“It’s very sad that Augie will not live to see the fulfilment of his conviction that good science will triumph over the false hype and over-exaggerated propaganda about carbon dioxide being a pollutant and a cause of catastrophic global warming. When the day comes when the science prevails, and there are many who predict that it will happen within the next five years, we will not forget the leadership shown by Augie Auer in the fight against the corruption of true science,” said Mr McShane.
Professor August H. (Augie) Auer Jr was one of New Zealand’s leading and best known atmospheric scientists and meteorologists
Mr Auer was Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Wyoming for 22 years. A method of classifying land-use as urban or rural, based on work he published in 1978, is used by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and by the Jamaican National Environment and Planning Agency. His most frequently cited research paper discusses formation of ice crystals in clouds.
In 1990, Professor Auer emigrated to New Zealand, becoming Chief Meteorologist for the Meteorological Service of New Zealand from 1990 to 1998. Auer has been frequently quoted in the New Zealand press regarding weather and climate issues, and is regarded in New Zealand as a "well-known and colourful meteorologist".
He was responsible for the improvement and updating of the technical competence of the MetService weather forecasting staff. His frequent liaison between the media and the MetService during major weather events, and his accurate interpretations, endeared him to the nation.
Following the transfer of climate science issues from the then MetService into the National Institute for Water and the Atmosphere (NIWA) in 1992; Augie became increasingly critical of the institute’s statements.
In 1998 Professor Auer became TV3’s weekday weather presenter. In February 2002 he moved into a new role as the network’s resident meteorologist. .
In April 2006, he helped found the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition in order debate the many extreme claims about man-made global warming, and was chairman of the coalition’s science panel.
In a May 19, 2007 interview with the Timaru Herald newspaper - Professor Auer said a combination of misinterpreted and misguided science, media hype, and political spin had created the current hysteria and it was time to put a stop to it. "It is time to attack the myth of global warming," he said. According to Mr Auer: Water vapour was responsible for 95 per cent of the greenhouse effect, an effect which was vital to keep the world warm, he explained. "If we didn't have the greenhouse effect the planet would be at minus 18 deg C but because we do have the greenhouse effect it is plus 15 deg C, all the time." The other greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen dioxide, and various others including CFCs, contributed only five per cent of the effect, carbon dioxide being the single greatest contributor at 3.6 per cent. "It would be like trying to increase the temperature of bath tub full of water - using one drop from an eye dropper".
Professor Auer had a grasp of all facets of meteorology including weather analysis and forecasting (corporate and governmental), teaching at the tertiary level, airborne research, weather modification, air pollution, legal and forensic consulting, extended range prediction and media presentations.
Professor Auer is remembered for his witty and quick manner of thinking and his ability to communicate complex ideas to the general public. He was an entertaining and informative speaker. His presentations on the atmosphere and the weather were both humorous and respectful, demonstrating a knowledge of all facets of weather and climate.  He had a particular rapport with New Zealand farmers, and a concern for the effect of climate on our primary industries.

Tribute on behalf of the Coalition by Terry Dunleavy MBE

at Augie’s Requiem Mass in Auckland on 22 June 2007. For all of us this is a time of mixed emotions. I know it’s that way for my colleagues of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

Last Tuesday night at 7.43, the lights in the whole of North Shore went out. Snap! One moment pervading light; the next deep brooding darkness, a sense of immediate helplessness.

It was like that when we heard about Augie. Our first thoughts were for Susan and the children; and then we realised what we also had lost.

The brighter the star, the blacker the void when its light suddenly vanishes. And the brightness of Augie’s star lit more than just his family and those of us who had the privilege of his friendship and professional collegiality and his ineffable congeniality: I have been amazed at the huge numbers of ordinary New Zealanders, throughout the length and breadth of the country, who have expressed their own personal sense of loss on websites and in other ways.
And as secretary of the Climate Science Coalition, I’ve had many similar messages from overseas.

The brighter the star, the blacker the void when its light suddenly vanishes. And yet, there’s that other emotion: when you get past that sense of loss, it’s impossible to think of Augie Auer and not smile, and not to suddenly feel your spirit rekindled by the memory of the unfailing warmth of his personality, his positive attitude to life, and especially his eternally reassuring confidence about the natural cycles of weather and climate that were so much a part of his life. In weather parlance, Augie was blessed with a prevailing sunny nature.

In my own life I’ve been branded as somewhat of a stirrer, and that has thrown me into contact with a lot of like-minded people, prepared to question the established order when it needed to be questioned and challenged. In all that time, I’ve never known anyone to possess the patience and persistent good humour that was such a distinctive and disarming characteristic of Augie.

He didn’t argue, he politely disagreed.  He didn’t antagonise. He didn’t attack the person, but simply expressed regret that people who should know better could be so wrong.

In the field of weather and climate, Augie’s grasp of the science, and his own personal, practical experiences and exposure to the elements, including some hair-raising exploits in the States flying in rickety aircraft into the heart of storms to better understand their causes and effects, saw him regarded with awe by those of his peers who really understand this complex and still developing branch of science.

But in addition to that, what they envied him, and what the rest of us came to value in Augie, was his extraordinary ability to convert the complexities of weather and climate science into language and symbols that us ordinary folk could understand. Such was his popularity among ordinary Kiwis, that there was probably a good reason that Metservice had to designate a weather ambassador, because there was only one person recognised as THE weather MAN: Augie Auer.

I would be failing in my duty today and our debt to Augie’s legacy if I didn’t refer to his leading role in the formation of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition in April last year.  He became a leading spokesman and chairman of our science panel.
All of us were fed up with the manner and extent to which the public have been misled on man-made global warming –as he pointed out it’s now called climate change so they can still claim to be right even if the present cooling phase continues. All of us in the coalition believe that the climate changes – it has done so quite naturally for millions of years, and it will continue to do so.

The truth is that the distinguished scientists among our number, like so many of their colleagues elsewhere in the world, have been unable to discover any valid verifiable scientific justification for the claim that man-made emissions of the life-giving gas carbon dioxide will cause the world to warm to any measurable degree, let alone to a catastrophic degree.

No one knew this better than Augie, who spent much of his last year bringing the message of truth and reason to groups up and down the country. He had a special rapport with farmers, and in his last year, I think he must have spoken to just about every branch of Federated Farmers in the country.

And now his voice is stilled; the light from his bright star has vanished.
But we will ensure that his message of honest science, logic and commonsense gains ever more wider acceptance until that day, now not that far way, when, as Augie assured me at the outset: “Don’t worry Terry, good science will win in the end.”

He has been a passionate opponent of the lie that the science is settled. As a true scientist he knew that science, across the whole range of scientific disciplines, is never settled thanks to humankind’s intelligence and talent for newer and more exciting discoveries.

So Augie would want me to say: Don’t believe all you read about so-called global warming in the scare-mongering print media, or what you hear from politicians desperate to create diversions from their problems with the polls. Especially don’t believe the flat earthers who want you to feel guilty about the way you live your lives.  Respect, protect and enhance the environment, yes, but don’t waste resources on ineffective remedies for non-existent problems.

Thanks to open and enquiring minds like Augie Auer’s, good science in the field of weather and climate is starting to win.  Those of us Augie has left behind, those of us he was accustomed to greet in his regular emails, as “fellow rebels,” owe it to his lifelong dedication to climate science and to his memory to do what we can to hasten the day when good science does finally triumph.

Meanwhile, we offer to Susan, Chris, Bridget and Andy, our heartfelt condolences. We know just how much you have lost, but we know that mixed in with that sense of loss is a deep pride in all that Augie accomplished.

We know that you will never, ever forget him.

Neither will we.

Haere ra, Augie
Haere atu ra
Haere, haere, haere.

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