The atmospheric sciences, no less than other fields of scientific endeavor, are experiencing growing demands and budgetary pressures for more direct concern with the problems of society. At the same time, the field has advanced to the stage where the meteorologist himself senses the need for more massive efforts, if progress is to be made with many of the major scientific problems. Thus the era ahead promises to be one in which increased emphasis is given to large problems of social and economic consequence such as weather prediction, weather and climate modification, and air pollution. The attacks on these large, complex problems will necessarily be multidisciplinary and will require new organizational alignments within government and educational institutions and new patterns of cooperation between public and private sectors. They will also necessitate a vast growth in size and sophistication of measuring and data handling systems.

The Global Atmospheric Research Program is discussed as a concrete example of a large, long-term program of the type foreseen. The likely effect of this and similar large programs on research and education in the universities is examined.

The trend towards greater emphasis on “big science” threatens to diminish the role of the individual in the scientific quest. In forging new modes of operation, it is important to avoid organizational structures which will stifle individual responsibility and initiative.

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Footnotes

1 Paper presented at the AMS Symposium on the Future of the Atmosphere, Madison, Wis., 22 October 1969.