Helmut Landsberg and the evolution of 20th century American climatology: envisioning a climatological renaissance

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  • Gabriel D. Henderson

After World War II, German-American climatologist Helmut Landsberg sought to realize his war-time vision for an American ` climatological renaissance.'Given the dramatic degradation of European science during the war, he believed that the United States offered the best hope to strengthen and reformulate what he considered to be the stale tradition of conceiving climatology as a geographical discipline. Inhabiting high-level positions within the American geophysical establishment after the war, his primary goal was to develop the tools and resources to analyze and interpret the overwhelming amounts of data that had been amassed over the centuries while, simultaneously, making climatology relevant to American life. However, there were limits. As someone who had invested his professional life in making climatology a useful discipline, Landsberg grew increasingly concerned that public debates about climate threatened his vision for a climatological renaissance. During the last two decades of his life, he became fixated on maintaining his ideal that climatology was not a glamorous discipline, and objected vehemently to those who sought to counter what he considered to be its true character. (C) 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Article number442
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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