Obituary for Prof. Dr habil. Wolfgang Böhme

Prof. Bôhme Prof. Dr habil. Wolfgang Böhme

Prof. Böhme, former Director of the Meteorological Service of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), died on 24 February 2012 in Berlin at the age of nearly 86 years. By his death, the meteorological community looses a great and famous scientist who had a considerable influence on the development of the Meteorological Service of the GDR and acted as an invited expert and chair or member of numerous WMO working groups from 1967 to 1990. Among other things, he was greatly involved in the elaboration of the World Climate Programme.

Born on 11 March 1926 in Dresden, Prof. Böhme started as meteorological observer after leaving school. He collaborated on the Meteorological Yearbook before studying Meteorology with Profs Ertl and Philipps at the Humboldt University in Berlin from 1948 to 1953. He obtained his PhD in 1958 for the work on the atmospheric turbulence theory and the occurrence of ageostrophic wind deviation in the upper troposphere. He qualified for professorship in 1970 and held lectures on Theoretical Meteorology at the Humboldt University, from 1971 on as honorary professor.

Before that he had been appointed Director of the Meteorological Service of the GDR (MD) in 1967. During his 23 years of service, the MD underwent a fundamental transformation. Prof. Böhme's particular interests lay in Numerical Weather Prediction and Medium-range Weather Forecasting. In particular, he promoted the combination of statistical and dynamical methods on the basis of satellite data and electronic data processing. He also contributed hugely to the scientific work of several specialised research institutions, such as the Institute for Research on Large-scale Weather Dynamics, where he had worked for several years, as well as the Research Institutes for Hydrometeorology, Bioclimatology and Agrometeorology and the Meteorological Main Observatory in Potsdam, especially in the fields of radiation and ozone measurements. In 1985, the MD's Antarctic activities at GDR's research base succeeded in exploring the vertical distribution of ozone, using the ozone sonde developed at the Lindenberg observatory. The AFMS (Automatisch Fernmeldende Meteorologische Station – Automatic Weather Station) developed at the MD's Instruments Office around the end of the 1960s was the first meteorological system with automatic data transmission worldwide to be used at all of a country's observing stations.

Member of the WMO's Commission for Atmospheric Sciences (CAS), the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), Prof. Böhme presented a wealth of scientific contributions, also in connection with the preparation and establishment of the Global Atmospheric Research Programme (GARP). He was involved in the First World Climate Conference in 1979 as member of the working group Human Influence on the Climate. During the Second World Climate Conference in 1990, he led the task group in charge of elaborating recommendations concerning the World Climate Programme (WCP). It was not least thanks to Prof. Böhme's active role in the WMO that the Meteorological Service of the GDR could organise the 1988 session of the WMO Regional Association RA VI in Potsdam and the WMO Technical Conference on Meteorological Instruments and Methods of Observation (TECO-88) in 1988 in Leipzig,

Prof. Böhme was member of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR and Chairman of the class on Geo and Cosmic Sciences. For many years, he was Vice-Chairman of the Meteorological Society of the GDR and then, after Germany's reunification, member of the German Meteorological Society. After retirement, which coincided with the reunification, Prof. Böhme continued his scientific activities within the Leibniz Society. He published more than 100 scientific contributions, 20 of which as retiree. Looking back on his scientific work, he once said that his main aim had always been to explore to the greatest possible extent all the information often hidden in the scientific observations and data.

An interview with Prof. Böhme was published in the WMO Bulletin Vol. 47 No. 3 (1998).

by G. Adrian

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