CIRES’ Sam Oltmans wins AGU collaboration award

Oltmans at Marshall

Sam Oltmans (center right) shows an historic photograph of a research balloon launch to colleagues Jim Butler (far left), Susan Solomon (left) and Dale Hurst (right), on April 22, 2010, at Marshall Mesa, south of Boulder, Colo. Photo by Will von Dauster, NOAA

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) Atmospheric Sciences (AS) section has selected CIRES’ Samuel J. Oltmans as the 2013 recipient of the Yoram J. Kaufman Unselfish Cooperation in Research Award. The award certificate and $1,000 prize will be presented to Oltmans at the AS section banquet during the AGU Fall Meeting this December in San Francisco.

“This award for broad influence in atmospheric science through exceptional creativity, inspiration of younger scientists, mentoring, international collaborations and unselfish cooperation fits Sam’s record of achievement perfectly,” wrote Leonard Barrie, former director of the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmospheric Watch program.

Oltmans works in the Global Monitoring Division (GMD) of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), in Boulder, Colo. He is best known in the atmospheric science community for his foresight in establishing long-term ozone and water vapor measurement programs back in the 1970s and 1980s, and for his selfless sharing of the valuable measurement data. In her award nomination letter, Jennifer Logan at Harvard University wrote: “Sam is unfailingly generous in sharing data with the community, even before he has had time to write his own papers. His data is readily available on the web, and Sam will happily discuss it.”

Oltmans’s high visibility results from his time spent on field campaigns around the globe, his major contributions to international assessments and reports and his leadership in the worldwide network of Dobson spectrophotometers. “Sam’s remarkable success owes to a unique ability to blend scientific knowledge and insights with collaborations that extend worldwide. It is hard to explain how much persistence and patience, qualities Sam has in abundance, are required to accomplish this,” wrote Chip Levy, retired from NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J.

Former NOAA scientist Susan Solomon (now at MIT) added: “I truly cannot think of anyone in the world who has been as impactful and unselfish in cooperation in research and in international collaboration.”

Oltmans recently retired from federal service but continues his research part time as a CIRES senior associate scientist within GMD’s Ozone and Water Vapor research group. Prior to his move, Oltmans spent years training younger GMD and CIRES scientists to continue the measurement programs he initiated several decades ago. “Sam clearly believes that the success of a long-term monitoring program relies on the propagation of his knowledge and experience to the next generation of scientists, through mentoring,” wrote Levy.

Oltmans is currently co-leading an international initiative to develop guidelines for the “Homogenization of Ozonesonde Data,” while continuing to play a pivotal role in the Southern Hemisphere Additional Ozonesondes (SHADOZ) network. He continues to collaboratively analyze and publish the data he painstakingly gathered for more than 30 years. Despite his retirement, Oltmans remains the “go to” guy when scientists consider embarking on a measurement program, whether it is a month-long study of surface ozone production from natural gas wells or a multi-decade plan to monitor the abundance of water vapor in the tropical stratosphere.

Contributed by Dale Hurst, CIRES and NOAA.