Abstract

Over the past century, the atmospheric and related sciences have seen incredible advances in our understanding of Earth’s environment and our ability to monitor and predict its behavior. These advances have had a profound impact on society and have been integrated into every aspect of daily life. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) has been instrumental in supporting these advances throughout its first 100 years of existence as a scientific and professional society serving the community of professionals in the atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrologic sciences. AMS has provided opportunities for researchers and practitioners to share their scientific findings and build fruitful collaborations to further the science and its application. Through strategic initiatives at key points in its history, AMS has pushed the science forward—highlighting areas ripe for development, creating frameworks for interdisciplinary interactions, and providing innovative approaches to the dissemination of research results. As a society made up of the scientific community and led by many of the most prominent scientists of their time, AMS has been able to respond to, and often anticipate, the needs of its community.

1. Introduction

This monograph is devoted to the history of research advances in the atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrologic sciences. Consistent with this goal, this chapter will concentrate on the support for the scientific research community that has been provided by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) over its first century. It is no exaggeration that AMS has played a fundamental role in advancing the science and its application. Through the efforts of thousands of volunteers organized under the framework of AMS, scientists have had avenues to share their research results broadly throughout the national and international community and to establish effective collaborations that might otherwise have never occurred. AMS has evolved and restructured throughout its first century to respond to the needs of a rapidly expanding community and was often instrumental in anticipating those needs by creating initiatives to address emerging scientific areas and new ways to foster progress.

The post–World War I era saw the emergence of many scientific organizations (Bates 1965), including the formation of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics in 1919. AMS was established in 1919 under the leadership of Charles Franklin Brooks, who was at the time the director of the Blue Hill Observatory, located south of Boston, Massachusetts (Fig. 1-1). The observatory, then managed by Harvard University but now operated by a nonprofit organization established for that purpose, holds the record for the longest continuous climate observational record in the United States (Blue Hill Observatory 2018). It also conducted the first kiteborne atmospheric sounding (on 4 August 1894) and holds the height record for a kite (Conover 1990). It was the home of many research innovations, especially in atmospheric sounding (see Fig. 1-1), and it is fitting that it played a significant role in the start of a national organization dedicated to promoting the science of meteorology.

Fig. 1-1

. (left) Blue Hill Observatory, the first home of AMS when Charles Franklin Brooks was its founding secretary. (right) Brooks at Blue Hill Observatory, circa 1953.

Fig. 1-1

. (left) Blue Hill Observatory, the first home of AMS when Charles Franklin Brooks was its founding secretary. (right) Brooks at Blue Hill Observatory, circa 1953.

Immediately after its formation in December of 1919, AMS began publishing the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS), with the first issue mailed to the almost 600 original members in January of 1920 (AMS 1920). Early issues of BAMS included brief reports on scientific research, including summaries of research papers published in other sources available at the time, most notably Monthly Weather Review (MWR), which was already a well-established journal published by the U.S. Weather Bureau (and earlier by the U.S. Signal Corps) for nearly half of a century. Thus, early AMS members were kept abreast of the latest research through AMS’s member magazine.

Early AMS Annual Meetings, typically held in conjunction with another scientific society, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), were also places in which scientific advances could be shared with members (see Fig. 1-2). Summaries of these early meetings published in BAMS—as well as the regular articles published in early issues—seem quaint by contemporary standards, and BAMS included as much “citizen science” as it did rigorous research. The early AMS had a large component of amateurs as part of its membership, and, consistent with all of the sciences of that era, useful discoveries were being made by individuals doing science in their spare time. Even at its start, however, as AMS committed itself to the advancement of the science and its application in its constitution (AMS 1920), AMS recognized the pervasive influence of weather and climate across all aspects of civilization, as evidenced by the wording on the “AMS Seal” that was adopted in 1920 (Fig. 1-3).

Fig. 1-2

. The 51st AMS Annual Meeting in 1971 in San Francisco, California (AMS 1971b).

Fig. 1-2

. The 51st AMS Annual Meeting in 1971 in San Francisco, California (AMS 1971b).

Fig. 1-3.

(a) AMS Seal as adopted in 1920. The May 1920 issue of BAMS included a brief announcement concerning the submission of designs for a seal. A seal committee formulated the requirements that the “seal should show the two Americas, that it should show something meteorological, and that the manifold applications of meteorology should be indicated.” A design by Lieutenant C. N. Keyser was approved by the seal committee and put to a vote before the attendees at the AMS Annual Meeting in 1920. Although there is no record in BAMS of a favorable vote, the AMS Seal seems to have gone into use immediately. (b) The AMS Seal as modified in 1962, when “Agriculture” (arguably the most important application of meteorology when adopted in 1920) was replaced by “Industry” in the top position. This 1962 version continues to be the used to the present.

Fig. 1-3.

(a) AMS Seal as adopted in 1920. The May 1920 issue of BAMS included a brief announcement concerning the submission of designs for a seal. A seal committee formulated the requirements that the “seal should show the two Americas, that it should show something meteorological, and that the manifold applications of meteorology should be indicated.” A design by Lieutenant C. N. Keyser was approved by the seal committee and put to a vote before the attendees at the AMS Annual Meeting in 1920. Although there is no record in BAMS of a favorable vote, the AMS Seal seems to have gone into use immediately. (b) The AMS Seal as modified in 1962, when “Agriculture” (arguably the most important application of meteorology when adopted in 1920) was replaced by “Industry” in the top position. This 1962 version continues to be the used to the present.

As AMS grew, and the need for professional meteorological services grew in support of aviation, agriculture, and other sectors, AMS became increasingly an organization made up of professional meteorologists and researchers. During the period just before World War II, programs to train meteorologists to meet both civilian and military needs were established at several major universities with the helpful persuasion of C. G. Rossby (Bates 1989). During and after the war, the science of meteorology was exploding, and the many meteorologists trained during the war became the backbone of AMS (Turner 2006). AMS established a permanent staff (rather than being run entirely by volunteers) with Kenneth Spengler becoming its first executive secretary in 1946. Spengler established the AMS headquarters in Boston, occupying leased space on Joy Street before obtaining 45 Beacon Street, which has been AMS headquarters since 1960 (Fig. 1-4). Serving as executive secretary and then executive director for over 40 years (Fig. 1-5), Spengler also represented AMS on a 1974 visit to China, establishing relations between American and Chinese meteorologists that remain strong today (Kellogg et al. 1974). With the rapid expansion of research and operations in meteorology, there was a need for more opportunities to share research results, so new journals began to emerge, as well as scientific conferences in specialized areas of the field. That history will be explored in more depth below.

Fig. 1-4

. Kenneth Spengler (far left) standing in front of 45 Beacon Street in Boston during renovations in 1958, shortly after the property was acquired to become AMS headquarters (AMS 1960b).

Fig. 1-4

. Kenneth Spengler (far left) standing in front of 45 Beacon Street in Boston during renovations in 1958, shortly after the property was acquired to become AMS headquarters (AMS 1960b).

Fig. 1-5.

The four chief executives AMS has had in its long history: (top) Kenneth Spengler, Executive Secretary and Director, 1946–87; (top middle) Richard Hallgren, Executive Director, 1988–98; (bottom middle) Ronald McPherson, Executive Director, 1999–2003; and (bottom) Keith Seitter, Executive Director, 2004–present.

Fig. 1-5.

The four chief executives AMS has had in its long history: (top) Kenneth Spengler, Executive Secretary and Director, 1946–87; (top middle) Richard Hallgren, Executive Director, 1988–98; (bottom middle) Ronald McPherson, Executive Director, 1999–2003; and (bottom) Keith Seitter, Executive Director, 2004–present.

In those early post–World War II years, AMS was a force in promoting the development of private-sector meteorology (Spiegler 1996), including the advent of broadcast meteorology, the certification program for which was launched in 1957 (Leep 1996; Henson 2010). During this time AMS restructured its membership, creating categories for students and corporations as well as “Fellows” and “Honorary Members,” thus allowing a broader membership base to AMS’s publications and meetings (Table 1-1). It is important to keep in mind that the support for scientific research that is the focus of this chapter is just one aspect of the role played by AMS over the past century in its rich history. This is why AMS membership is nearly evenly divided among the academic, government, and private-sector communities.

Table 1-1.

AMS membership by decade. The totals in the parentheses show the portion of the total that is made up by corporations and students, which were not added as separate member categories until the late 1950s.

AMS membership by decade. The totals in the parentheses show the portion of the total that is made up by corporations and students, which were not added as separate member categories until the late 1950s.
AMS membership by decade. The totals in the parentheses show the portion of the total that is made up by corporations and students, which were not added as separate member categories until the late 1950s.

2. BAMS

From its inception, BAMS has played a role that reached beyond the typical member magazine for a membership organization, and as such it has been an invaluable tool for those doing research on the atmosphere. Although early issues did not contain peer-reviewed research articles, they did include member-submitted observations and investigations and, very notably, summaries of papers presented at scientific meetings (with discussion) and summaries of research results published elsewhere. Thus, an AMS member could use BAMS to learn about the emergence of “weather insurance” to protect farmers against losses due to weather (Palmer 1922), see a summary of a study of lightning and forest fires in the northern Rocky Mountain region that was published in Monthly Weather Review (Varney 1926), or read about plans for free balloon flights to measure upper-air meteorological variables by Leroy Meisinger (1924) only to learn three months later of his tragic death in an accident during one of those flights (AMS 1924).

Over time, new observations and other research results were published in BAMS in increasing numbers, and by 1944 it was not uncommon to see papers in BAMS that were very theoretical, with detailed derivations including partial differential and vector equations, sometimes with hand-drawn mathematics (Panofsky 1944). Given this growth of research in meteorology, AMS launched the Journal of Meteorology in 1944 as part of a set of initiatives designed to expand AMS as it passed its 25th anniversary so that it could become “an organization capable of serving the interests of both professionals and laymen alike” (Rossby 1944). BAMS continued to expand its publication of original research results, but the more theoretical papers coming to AMS for publication were primarily to be found in the Journal of Meteorology and its successors from this point onward.

The mix of formal peer-reviewed research papers with more traditional member magazine content (book reviews, conference announcements, news items, etc.) made BAMS a sort of hybrid journal/magazine. Given its broad reader base and reach across the community, it was an attractive place to publish significant research results, and over time it achieved status as a high-impact journal. In 1964 BAMS began including a cover photo (see Fig. 1-6), usually related to a featured article in that issue, and it became competitive within the community not only to be published in BAMS but to have an article that included the cover photo. The next few decades saw significant growth of BAMS, as shown in Fig. 1-7.

Fig. 1-6

. Cover of the January 1964 issue of BAMS, the first to include a photograph. This photograph of dried mud supported the lead article in the issue (Petterssen 1964).

Fig. 1-6

. Cover of the January 1964 issue of BAMS, the first to include a photograph. This photograph of dried mud supported the lead article in the issue (Petterssen 1964).

Fig. 1-7

. Total pages published in BAMS as a function of year, including pages making up supplements (online supplements, as well as the combined pages of the State of the Climate report, and the Explaining Extremes from a Climate Perspective reports). The sudden drop in page counts in 2002 was the result of a major restructuring of BAMS that introduced more selectivity through the use of article proposals while encouraging shorter printed articles and more use of online supplements. Despite these efforts, the page counts have continued to grow in recent years.

Fig. 1-7

. Total pages published in BAMS as a function of year, including pages making up supplements (online supplements, as well as the combined pages of the State of the Climate report, and the Explaining Extremes from a Climate Perspective reports). The sudden drop in page counts in 2002 was the result of a major restructuring of BAMS that introduced more selectivity through the use of article proposals while encouraging shorter printed articles and more use of online supplements. Despite these efforts, the page counts have continued to grow in recent years.

As the community began doing “big science” field programs, BAMS was an attractive venue to publish overviews of the projects as well as papers summarizing key outcomes from the projects. A particularly good example of that is the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP; Reed 1969), and experiments under the GARP umbrella, such as the GARP Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE; Wallace et al. 1971). These massive multinational projects generated hundreds of research papers (and provided research projects for hundreds of graduate students) while advancing the science dramatically. Those in the community not directly involved in GARP could easily keep up with the work through a series of 85 reports and articles appearing in BAMS under the heading “GARP Topics” from 1969 to 1986. Just a few examples of later large field projects that used BAMS to provide easily accessible documentation of the experimental framework are the Atmospheric Variability Experiment–Severe Environmental Storms and Mesoscale Experiment (AVE-SESAME; Hill et al. 1979), TOGA COARE (Webster and Lukas 1992), VORTEX (Rasmussen et al. 1994), and THORPEX (Parsons et al. 2017).

In 1996, AMS worked with NOAA to provide a unique resource to the meteorological community. The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) had been working since 1991 on a reanalysis of 40 years of atmospheric observations using what was then a state-of-the-art data assimilation system. In addition to publishing an article in BAMS describing the project (Kalnay et al. 1996), every issue of BAMS included a CD-ROM containing the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis dataset.

In 1997, BAMS began accepting content to be placed online as supplements. This allowed shorter articles to appear in the regular pages of BAMS, and it also provided a good outlet for longer summaries of scientific meetings, long a staple of BAMS content, so that the meeting outcomes could be preserved in the literature. Both forms of electronic supplement contributed to the reduction in size of BAMS issues, which was pursued aggressively in the early 2000s following a reorganization of BAMS. Publication of the annual climate assessment reports prepared by NOAA as supplements of BAMS issues also began in 1996. These were renamed State of the Climate reports starting in 2003 (Waple and Lawrimore 2003), and they have grown to be routinely more than 250 pages. In 2012, Peterson et al. (2012) collected papers on attribution of extreme events in terms of climate and published the result as a special 27-page section in BAMS. Starting in 2013, Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective reports have become annual supplements to BAMS, similar to the State of the Climate reports.

When the journals began to be delivered online in addition to print (see below), the peer-reviewed articles appearing in BAMS were included as part of the journals online database, with BAMS articles being open access from the start. Only the scientific articles of BAMS were included, not the “member magazine” content (such as news, book reviews, obituaries, etc.). When the previously published journals’ legacy content was scanned and added to the database, BAMS articles (and again only scientific articles) back to 1970 were added as well, still as open access content. As valuable as this peer-reviewed content has been, the incomplete coverage of BAMS has limited its usefulness as an archive of the field. As one of several centennial initiatives, AMS completed the digitization of BAMS so that it would be part of the searchable journals online database, cover to cover, from its first issue onward, all as open access content (Seitter 2017).

3. Journals

a. Evolution of the AMS suite of journals

The growth of scientific research in the atmospheric and related hydrologic and oceanic sciences is reflected in the history of AMS journals. As noted above, the publications program began in 1944 with publication of the Journal of Meteorology. The lead paper in the journal’s first issue, “On the Theory of Cyclones” by Bjerknes and Holmboe (1944), continues to be actively cited to this day. The first volume year of the journal contained just eight papers and the two printed issues that were mailed combined for a total of 108 pages. By volume 10, in 1953, the journal was mailing issues to subscribers six times per year, and 488 pages were published that year.

A current AMS journal that predates the Journal of Meteorology by quite a wide margin is MWR. The journal was initially established in 1872 by the U.S. Army Signal Corps. In 1890, the U.S. government created the U.S. Weather Bureau as a civilian agency and transferred the meteorological responsibilities of the Signal Corps to it. MWR became a U.S. Weather Bureau publication in 1891. The Weather Bureau became part of the newly formed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970, and MWR became a NOAA publication at that time. NOAA offered to hand MWR over to AMS in 1971, and the AMS Publications Commission recommended that the AMS Council should accept the offer. The handover began with a three-year trial during which NOAA continued to partly subsidize publication so that AMS could gauge interest in the continued publication of the journal and, at the end of the three years, decide whether to discontinue it or continue it as a fully AMS-funded project. The main concerns in taking over MWR were the potential for subject overlap with the existing AMS journals [Journal of Meteorology (JAM), Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences (JAS), and, to a lesser extent, Journal of Physical Oceanography (JPO); see below] and the cost. The first problem was solved by careful consideration of the emphases of each journal and some subtle shifting in the areas that each journal covered over the next few years. The second problem was addressed by offering MWR not as a constituent element of membership but as an additional subscription. At the time, the other journals were included with the payment of membership dues, but upon adopting MWR the decision was made to shift to a model under which each journal required its own subscription (Kellogg 1973).

Given the rapid growth of the atmospheric sciences in the early 1960s (Fleming 2016), AMS underwent a major reorganization aimed at filling the need for an organization that could hold meetings and publish research on meteorological topics in which private, public, and academic meteorologists could all participate (McTaggart-Cowan 1961). One of the results of that reorganization was essentially to split the Journal of Meteorology into two journals by changing the name of the Journal of Meteorology to Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, with its first issue of 1962 (while maintaining the same ISSN and volume sequence), and launching a second journal. AMS’s second journal, the Journal of Applied Meteorology, which underwent several subsequent name changes itself, was first published quarterly beginning in March of 1962. The original statement of purpose for JAM said that it was to cover “the full range of applications to safety, health, the economy, and the general well-being of the human community,” with the more “knowledge-oriented” articles being published in JAS (AMS 1962). In 1983, as research into climate continued to expand, JAM was renamed the Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology (JCAM) and it sought to include “papers in both basic and applied aspects of climate research” in addition to the applied meteorology and technology papers that had traditionally appeared in the journal (Hecht and Bergman 1983).

By 1988, with papers on climate now appearing in JCAM, MWR, and JAS, AMS launched the Journal of Climate (JCLI) and changed the name of JCAM back to JAM (Silverman 1988). The change reflected growing international attention to climate, and the intention of AMS was to serve its readership by creating a singular focal-point journal for climate studies. The pressing need for a publication dedicated to climate is clear from the fact that, unlike most of the other AMS journals, JCLI began as a monthly publication rather than a quarterly one, and it surpassed 1300 pages in its very first year. It has continued to grow, and it published more than 10 000 pages of articles in 2017.

With so much work being done in climate research, there was an effort to bring some of the more applied aspects into JAM, so applied climatology was added to the journal’s scope in 2006, and with that addition the journal’s name changed yet again to now be Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology (JAMC). The new terms of reference outlined the climate-related areas now covered: “JAMC publishes papers related to the use of climate information in decision making, impact assessments, agricultural and forest applications and verification, climate risk and vulnerability, development of climate monitoring tools, urban and local climates, and climate as it relates to the environment and society” (Rauber et al. 2006).

JPO was AMS’s third scientific journal, beginning its publication in 1971, following AMS’s 50th anniversary, as “a medium for the publication of research related to the physics and chemistry of the ocean and of the processes operating at its boundaries” (AMS 1971a). The AMS Planning Commission suggested the founding of this journal in order to broaden AMS interests in geophysics. A quarterly at the beginning, it became a monthly journal in its 10th year.

The AMS publications program flowered in the 1980s, with three new journals launched during that decade, including the massive Journal of Climate mentioned above. The Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology (JTECH) launched in 1984, in recognition of the close coupling between atmosphere and ocean and the centrality of their interactions to the understanding of Earth’s climate, meteorology in coastal regions, and atmospheric and oceanic chemical balances. The purpose of JTECH was to provide a forum for members of the meteorological and oceanic communities to present their technological results to an audience directly involved in their use so as to stimulate communications among engineers, meteorologists, oceanographers, physicists, and chemists (Rossby and Serafin 1984). The journal now covers atmospheric and oceanic measurements and instrumentation. Like most of the specialized journals, JTECH was founded as a quarterly, but it began monthly publication with its 15th-anniversary volume in 1999.

AMS launched Weather and Forecasting (WAF) as a quarterly journal in 1986, drawing from an increased volume of submissions to the “Forecasting” section of BAMS. The journal’s mission was “to serve its members who are engaged primarily in operational forecasting or who are in research that is directed toward better understanding of weather events that present significant operational forecast problems” (AMS 1986). The intention was to foster dialogue between operational forecasters and researchers by discussing weather events that presented significant forecast problems, offering a forum for new forecasting techniques, and assessing progress in analysis and forecasting. To these ends, the journal at launch included biographies of significant forecasters, a section for developing technology, and a “Forecasters’ Forum” for discussion (Burpee and Snellman 1986). That the journal met an unfulfilled need is clear from the fact that it gained 1100 subscribers over its first three years of publication (Kocin and Uccellini 1988).

The Journal of Hydrometeorology (JHM) began in 2000 as a bimonthly journal, becoming monthly in 2016. The biannual hydrology conferences of AMS (which became annual in 2002) had seen rapid growth in submissions, with over 200 presentations in 1999, showing the need for a specialized journal to gather papers that otherwise would have been scattered between JCLI, MWR, and the other AMS journals. The purpose of JHM was to publish research “related to the modeling, observing, and forecasting of processes related to water and energy fluxes and storage terms, including interactions with the boundary layer and lower atmosphere, and including processes related to precipitation, radiation, and other meteorological inputs.” The journal includes research in hydrometeorology, hydroclimatology, and interactions between the land and the atmosphere (Lettenmaier 2000).

In the early 2000s, scholars working at the intersection of the social sciences with atmospheric sciences approached AMS about starting a new journal. After discussions in both the AMS Publications Commission and AMS Council, it became clear that AMS “can no longer ignore the ways that the social sciences will be needed to help us understand how the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of weather and climate are related to major social and policy issues” (Karl 2009). In response, a new journal, Weather, Climate, and Society (WCAS), was launched in 2009. This journal was the most interdisciplinary of those offered by AMS and broke new ground by including among its author base economists, social geographers, communications experts, and other scholars who would not normally look to AMS journals as homes for their research (Balstad 2009).

AMS journals have shown steady growth over the years (see Fig. 1-8). In some cases, AMS was successful in capturing emerging research areas, while in others it was not. It is acknowledged that AMS was not as responsive to the growing atmospheric chemistry community in the 1990s and 2000s as it could have been, and only some subsets of that community routinely view AMS journals as a primary outlet for research results.

Fig. 1-8

. Annual page counts for AMS journals from the inception of Journal of Meteorology in 1944 onward. MWR is included starting in 1974, when it became an AMS journal.

Fig. 1-8

. Annual page counts for AMS journals from the inception of Journal of Meteorology in 1944 onward. MWR is included starting in 1974, when it became an AMS journal.

AMS’s journals have highlighted emerging research areas and specific field experiments through special issues and later, special collections, that bring together a collection of papers on that topic. These collections of papers were useful in drawing new research areas into AMS journals, since they were often cited and established the AMS journal as the home for publications on those topics. A good example is the special issue in JAS on NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS; Rood and Geller 1994), which led to many follow-up papers related to UARS being published in JAS. While in the print world, the release of a special issue was delayed until the last paper in it was accepted for publication, in the online world, special collections (with each paper in the collection flagged in the database) could be built up over a series of months, as papers completed the review process, and could span several journals.

So-called review articles that summarize the research to date on a specific environmental phenomenon have played a role in AMS journals, especially Monthly Weather Review, throughout their history. In the 1970s, an emphasis was placed on publishing review articles and many more were completed than had been typical. These articles do not, of course, report on new original research findings, and in the 1980s and 1990s they began to be discouraged in the AMS journals other than MWR. By the 2010s, there was an increased appreciation of the role such articles can play for the community, especially those entering the field, and all AMS journals began accepting review articles again.

b. Evolution of the delivery of journal content to readers

For the first eight decades of AMS’s existence, journals were simply printed volumes mailed to subscribers. The technology to produce those printed pages continued to evolve, but the reader of the publication saw print on paper in a form that was not substantially different than what had been produced 200 or 300 years earlier.

From the early 1990s, discussions were evolving in the scientific publishing community about the idea of publishing electronic journals. A driver of that concept was the desire to build in content that could not be included in a paper publication, such as animations. It is important to recall that this was in the early days of the Internet and World Wide Web, so significant discussion centered on how to deliver the electronic content, with many envisioning journals being mailed to subscribers on diskettes [at the time, 3.5-in. (90 mm) rigid disks, which were replacing 5.25-in. (133 mm) floppy disks] or CD-ROMs, or as files attached to e-mails—although there were concerns about the size of such files and the ability to deliver them over existing networks (Okerson 1993). There were also many discussions in library forums about the most appropriate pricing models for electronic journals in comparison with delivery in print.

A sticking point was the faithful display of mathematical equations. Some advocated using portable document format (PDF), which had just been released at the time (Leurs 2018), so that display was easily controlled, while others felt that since PDF represented just an image of the printed page, little was gained by the electronic format. There were advocates of TeX (Koenig et al. 1993) given its facility with mathematical content, but support was not universal. A few publishers made a push for creating a truly symbolic math representation that would allow equations to be “read” by software packages (such as Mathematica; Wolfram 1996) rather than just being rendered correctly, but the tools available at the time were not up to the task.

With the emergence of new tools for the Internet, discussions among scientific society publishers changed rapidly, and conferences and workshops at the time became exciting venues to discuss and debate this new means of delivering content. [One of us (Seitter) spent a daylong workshop with then AMS Publications Commissioner Joanne Simpson learning how to navigate Gopher and use it to make files available to other users (Burton et al. 1993).]

While the Internet and the World Wide Web allowed an approach to delivering files, it was the 1993 introduction of Mosaic (Graham 1995), the first true Web browser, that caused real excitement in the publishing community. Suddenly, pages could be delivered to a researcher’s desktop and displayed directly in the browser window using the newly developed Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) to format the text and include embedded links to other content, such as images and even animations. Again, mathematics was a problem. Early HTML and browser software had extremely limited capabilities, so even including a simple Greek letter in a sentence required it to be embedded as an inline graphical image, which might not render at a size that was appropriate for the surrounding text. A higher-level markup language, Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML; Goldfarb 1990), was available to create content, but until the Panorama browser was introduced in 1995 (Grycz 1997), SGML could not be rendered directly.

AMS entered the electronic publishing arena for journal content by partnering with other societies to create the all-electronic journal Earth Interactions (see  appendix A). In many ways, Earth Interactions was ahead of its time, and it struggled to gain author and reader acceptance.

Shortly after the launch of Earth Interactions, AMS was approached by Allen Press of Lawrence, Kansas, with a proposal to produce all AMS journals in SGML, with that database driving the print production as well as dissemination online using a conversion of the SGML to HTML. This was cutting-edge technology at the time, and Allen Press was looking for a partner publisher to participate in the creation of a new platform for this form of electronic distribution. AMS worked with Allen Press to develop protocols for access to the content that allowed institutional access by Internet Protocol (IP) address while also allowing individual access through a username and password—a dual-access approach that was novel at the time but quickly became the industry standard. The Allen Press platform built in collaboration with AMS became the platform adopted by many publishers and publishing collaborations, including BioOne (Alexander and Goodyear 2000), Public Library of Science (PLOS 2018), and others (Alexander 1997). The approach of offering full text in HTML (which was rapidly evolving throughout this period) and a print-equivalent display in PDF also became industry standard. In 1998, AMS was chosen as one of InfoWorld’s top 100 organizations using breakthrough information technology strategies for its use of SGML in the creation of journal content and the launch of Earth Interactions as an all-electronic journal (AMS 1999a).

In 2002, the AMS Council voted to formally declare the SGML [later replaced by Extensible Markup Language (XML); Harold and Means 2001] as the version of record for AMS journals (Seitter 2003). AMS was among the first scientific societies to acknowledge the journal database as the official “journal of record” rather than the print volumes. To ensure that the content is preserved for future generations, AMS participates in Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe (LOCKSS) [and its more secure ancillary Controlled LOCKSS (CLOCKSS)] and Portico—independent programs coming out of the library community to archive content (Seitter 2007). Despite having the electronic database serve as the journal of record, there was a reluctance to have the print and electronic versions diverge, so with the exception of Earth Interactions, nonprintable content (such as animations) was not allowed in the main article and was required to be included as supplemental material associated with an article. These supplemental files (which could also be additional figures, data, or other content that was useful but not essential to the main article) were not included in the print version of the article but were reviewed as part of the peer-review process all the same, since they were included in the online database and archived as part of the article (Schubert et al. 2001). [It is interesting to note that the option for authors to provide supplemental electronic files was introduced before the journals were online by allowing the supplements to be mailed on a CD-ROM with the print journal (Seitter 1996).]

With the introduction of online availability of all AMS journals in 1998, scientists quickly adopted the online version over the print product as their preferred method of delivery. However, it was very common for users to print the PDF version of an article to read offline rather than reading the HTML version on the screen. User statistics from the time showed that the PDF versions were accessed far more than the HTML one. It was also noted anecdotally that research libraries and other facilities needed to increase their budgets for paper for printers and in some cases needed to upgrade their printers to satisfy the demand for print services. Recent usage statistics show that the PDF version is still preferentially downloaded by users over the HTML version, with 69% of the 2017 downloads being the PDF version, but anecdotal information suggests that this is now often read on a screen device rather than printed.

In a major initiative by AMS, all previously published journal content was scanned and placed online as searchable PDF files (AMS 1999b). To help recover the costs for this effort, in consultation with members of the Atmospheric Science Librarians International, AMS developed a pricing model for the legacy content that reduced its price each year with the goal of having all content older than five years be freely available. The approach capitalized on the desire of major research libraries to have the searchable database immediately—and their willingness to pay a one-time fee to obtain that access. In later years, as the price for access ramped down, other libraries purchased access. This model was successful, and all legacy content older than five years was made open access in 2002 (Seitter 2002). In 2009 the AMS Council voted to make all content older than two years open (Seitter 2010), and then in 2016 it voted to move the delay at which articles were made open to 12 months (Seitter 2016). NOAA partnered with AMS to make all pre-1974 content of MWR available online and searchable as part of the AMS Journals Online database, making this important corpus of research and data easily accessible to the community.

Another aspect of the open access movement in scientific publishing was the introduction of an option for authors to designate their article as open access immediately on publication with the payment of a modest additional publication fee. This “Open Choice” option was introduced in 2012 (Seitter 2012) and has increased in popularity since its introduction. In 2017, approximately 23% of the papers published in the journals were available as open access content through this option. The AMS journals have a history of pushing the technology and evolving in ways to best serve the research community (Rauber and Heideman 2014). Recent initiatives include making the journals more user friendly for mobile devices and having the content coded to better support use by those who are visually impaired.

4. Monographs and books

The Meteorological Monograph Series, devoted to the occasional publication of extended papers or a series of related shorter papers addressing a single theme, began in 1947 with a review of developments in applied climatology resulting from World War II. Monographs served an important function over the next several decades in providing a comprehensive summary of the scientific knowledge on a subdiscipline or specific environmental phenomenon. While most monographs in recent decades have been made up of peer-reviewed chapters authored independently and collected under the direction of an editor, there have still been occasional monographs in which the entire volume was prepared by one or two authors (see, e.g., Kocin and Uccellini 2004).

The monograph series included a subseries referred to as Historical Monographs, that had its own separate editorial board for many years. That series included some notable contributions on the history of science, such as Petterssen’s contribution to the D-day forecast (Fleming 2001) and the monograph produced in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of AMS (Fleming 1996). AMS had also produced books on the history of science independent from the Historical Monograph series, and in 2015 AMS decided to no longer make a distinction between books and monographs covering history and instead treat all historical contributions as part of the AMS book program.

With all journal content available online since 1997 and therefore easily discoverable and accessible, print monographs became less desirable and harder to justify within the author community. AMS worked toward getting monograph chapter titles and abstracts (if available) into the journals online database so that those searching for a subject online would became aware of an available monograph on that topic, but the impact was small. In the 2000s, most monographs collected papers dedicated to leaders in the community and that covered the scientific areas in which those people contributed (see, e.g., Johnson and Houze 2003). In 2015, the AMS Publications Commission changed the character of monographs to be fundamentally online, open access publications with a “print on demand” option for those who wanted a hardcopy volume (McFarquhar and Rauber 2016). The first monograph produced in this way was monograph number 56 (Fovell and Tung 2016), and this centennial monograph volume also represents an example of this approach.

While AMS had published books separate from the monograph series over the years, starting in the 2000s a more concerted effort was made to increase the number of titles released under the AMS books label. These included, especially, books aimed at a more general audience, from general knowledge books such as The Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change (Henson 2014) to historical entries such as Taken by Storm, 1938: A Social and Meteorological History of the Great New England Hurricane (Aviles 2018).

5. Compendium of Meteorology

Research in meteorology greatly intensified during World War II, and after the war there was a growing sense that a survey of the current state of the science should be conducted. In the late 1940s, AMS created a committee of community leaders to undertake this ambitious initiative. This committee assembled a list of distinguished authors (a true who’s who of experts) covering an array of subjects that went beyond the traditional subject areas seen as making up meteorology and climatology to include hydrology, physical oceanography, biometeorology, solar influences, planetary atmospheres, and even aspects of seismology. This resulted in the 1951 publication of the Compendium of Meteorology (Malone 1951). The first line of the preface summarizes the goal:

The purpose of the Compendium of Meteorology is to take stock of the present position of meteorology, to summarize and appraise the knowledge which untiring research has been able to wrest from nature during past years, and to indicate the avenues of further study and research which need to be explored in order to extend the frontiers of our knowledge.

This 1334-page volume became a valuable reference for all research meteorologists at the time, and for decades after. Many incoming graduate students were handed a copy as a starting point in their search for a research project to form the basis of their graduate degree.

From time to time, it was suggested that AMS create a new and updated Compendium to continue to serve this purpose. In multiple discussions of the AMS Council, however, it was noted that the field has expanded so greatly that it is no longer possible to carry out the kind of comprehensive survey completed in 1951. To some extent, the present monograph serves part of the purpose of the Compendium, bringing together in one place a summary of research results covering the atmospheric and related sciences.

6. Glossary of Meteorology

AMS took on a role of helping to standardize the use of terminology across the atmospheric and related sciences by creating an extensive and authoritative glossary of meteorological terms in 1959 (Huschke 1959). The Glossary of Meteorology contained approximately 8000 carefully created and reviewed terms and became a standard desk reference for the community. It stood the test of time and sold more copies than any other AMS publication.

By the 1990s, it had become very clear that the Glossary was in serious need of updating and expansion (e.g., it did not include any entry related to weather satellites). It was acknowledged that this would be a major undertaking if the level of rigor exercised in the first edition was to be maintained. In 1994, AMS was awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that combined funding from five U.S. government agencies to help support the project under the notion that this was valuable to the research efforts of the entire community and therefore was worthy of support from these major research agencies.

AMS tapped the expertise of hundreds of volunteers to review and update terms include in the original Glossary, as well as to create new terms with carefully constructed definitions. The resulting second edition of the Glossary of Meteorology was published in 2000 in both print and as a searchable CD-ROM, with nearly 2 times as many terms included as were in the original 1959 volume (Glickman 2000).

Shortly after the release of the second edition of the Glossary, plans began for placing the work online, as well as developing a process to continually update the document to keep it current. Initially available to AMS members only, the Glossary was converted to an open access publication online in 2012. The Glossary has a standing editorial board and volunteer chief editor, similar to the AMS journals, and a well-defined process for adding and updating terms on a continuous basis.

7. MGA

As noted above, in its early decades, BAMS provided brief summaries of published research results from other publications. During World War II, with greater demand for systematic coverage of the literature, BAMS included as a regular feature bibliographies (and some abstracts) of published research. This approach was not keeping up with the demand, however, so starting in 1950, AMS began producing Meteorological Abstracts and Bibliography as a separate publication (Rigby 1950). This “abstract journal” used a standardized classification scheme for arranging the article abstracts, making it straightforward for researchers to monitor specific subject areas without physically scanning entire print volumes. Initially, because of budget constraints, Meteorological Abstracts and Bibliography covered about half of the known meteorological literature, estimated to be about 3000 articles per year (Rigby 1950). Until 1962, the monthly issues included select, annotated bibliographies on topics such as air pollution, climatic change, and cloud physics. These bibliographies are now a valuable guide to the historical literature of meteorology. In 1960, this publication changed its title to Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts (MGA), reflecting “more emphasis to the various fields of Geophysics, Astrophysics, and, of course, the usual branches of Meteorology” (MGA 1960).

Over the next two decades, as the published literature grew rapidly, MGA grew as well but at a pace that did not keep up with the literature, so by the 1980s it was covering well less than half of the relevant articles in the field, but it was still a very useful resource. Other bibliographic resources, such as Science Citation Index [later to become Web of Science (Thompson Reuters 2014)] emerged and offered new ways to conduct literature searches. Of course, these bibliographic databases were becoming electronic resources at this time that could be searched by the users directly rather than relying on hardcopy volumes. In 1993, AMS provided a license to Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (which was later absorbed by ProQuest) to produce MGA and leverage its content with other bibliographic databases. This greatly expanded the coverage and usefulness of MGA as part of a larger suite of environmental databases subscribed to by research libraries and supports the research enterprise by providing greater discoverability of the literature.

8. AMS Translation Project

In 1952, in response to the postwar demand for European research articles and other reference material, AMS established a translation service using professional translators. The program was set up through the sponsorship of the Air Force Cambridge Research Center. By 1957, the year of Sputnik’s launch, requests for translations from Russian had overtaken translations of articles and reference works from German, which had started out as the most prevalent language among the 12 European languages translated.

The material translated represented meteorology in its broad sense, that is, the study of atmospheric phenomena, their interaction with other media, such as the hydrosphere and the lithosphere, and the effect of external agents on the atmosphere (solar and cosmic forces). Thus, in addition to articles on synoptic and dynamic meteorology, climatology, and other standard atmospheric science topics, the translations included works on seismology, terrestrial magnetism, radioactivity, and other areas (AMS 1960a).

The project initially provided complete translations of published journal articles, chapters from books and portions of other relevant reference works and included graphs, tables, equations, notes and bibliographies. By 1960, translations of specific and relevant tables of contents were provided as they became available and the proportion of Russian language translations increased to about 65% of the total. A cumulative list of translations was issued annually, and funding from the National Science Foundation specifically for Russian language materials enabled the program to expand its activities. The last translation appeared in 1965, a 347-page book entitled Studies of Clouds, Precipitation, and Thunderstorm Electricity.

The translation indexes and other citations were included in MGA so that they were readily available to the community. The Translation Project, the production of the cumulative indexes, and their inclusion in MGA, is another example of AMS’s anticipation of the needs of academic, private-sector, and government researchers. These publications provided a vital step in advancing postwar scientific research and were an interim link between manually produced indexes and electronic databases.

9. Conferences

a. The growth of conferences

Among changes implemented in the 1961 reorganization of AMS was the creation of commissions to organize volunteer activities within AMS. One of those initial commissions was the Education and Scientific Activities Commission, which was split in 1962 to become Education and Manpower Commission (later the Education and Human Resources Commission) and the Scientific and Technical Activities Commission (STAC; pronounced stack). The goals expressed in the 1961 reorganization (McTaggart-Cowan 1961) included that the commissions be more proactive than the earlier boards on specialized topics had been, with the commissions offering policy advice to the AMS Council, drafting statements, and organizing their own conferences (a few radar conferences had already happened, but this was the start of major efforts within AMS to arrange regular conferences on special topic areas).

A history of the organization of STAC over the years is provided in  appendix B. For the first few years, there were a number of changes as the structure and approach settled into a more stable form. After that the evolution was mostly one of adding new subdisciplinary committees and, later, cross-disciplinary boards. Each committee or board was responsible for organizing regular conferences covering its area, as well as other activities, such as helping to prepare AMS statements on scientific issues, providing input for some awards offered by the AMS, responding to requests from the media for experts, and helping to prepare and review new definitions for the Glossary of Meteorology.

A chronology of the beginning of each conference series hosted by AMS is provided in Table 1-2. STAC was not the only commission whose boards and committees began ongoing series of conferences or meetings. Given the success of the conferences organized under STAC and the value of these meetings to the community, other AMS commissions began organizing ongoing series of conferences and meetings. In some cases, such as with the Broadcast Meteorology Conference, these other conferences and meetings were not aimed at furthering the research in a particular subdiscipline, but still furthered the goals of promoting the science and its applications.

Table 1-2.

AMS conferences and the year in which they were first convened.

AMS conferences and the year in which they were first convened.
AMS conferences and the year in which they were first convened.
AMS conferences and the year in which they were first convened.
AMS conferences and the year in which they were first convened.

b. Evolution of the Annual Meeting

Early scientific conferences were generally focused on the subject area of a single STAC committee, although by the 1980s it was not uncommon for two STAC committees to collocate their meetings and include joint sessions between them (especially for STAC committees that had overlap in subject areas, such as the Cloud Physics and Radar Committees). Before the 1980s, the AMS Annual Meeting was a small affair that mostly dealt with the business of AMS, but also might include a few scientific review sessions or be collocated with a STAC committee (AMS 1979). During the 1980s and 1990s, a concerted effort was made to grow the Annual Meeting and make it an umbrella meeting for a collection of conferences. This began by instituting the Interactive Information and Processing Systems (IIPS) Conference as a regular feature of the Annual Meeting beginning in 1985 (AMS 1984). The rapidly growing IIPS Conference provided an anchor and soon other STAC committee conferences began cycling through the Annual Meeting. This provided opportunities for different STAC committees to sponsor joint sessions and fostered greater interdisciplinary interactions. The IIPS Conference also played an important role in fostering a growing exhibits program, and by the early 2000s the exhibit hall routinely featured 100 or more exhibiting organizations. By the late 1990s, the meeting often included up to 20 separate conferences and symposia and was too large to hold in even a large hotel, so convention centers became the standard venue. There was some feeling that the event had become too chaotic, so an ad hoc committee studied the Annual Meeting and made the recommendation that it should be organized around themes that gave it more structure and improved the chances for fruitful interdisciplinary interactions (AMS 1999c). The Annual Meeting has continued to grow steadily, and by 2015 was routinely hosting over 30 separate conferences and symposia under its umbrella and attracting over 4000 attendees.

Given the convening power represented by the Annual Meeting, its program began to include many features beyond just scientific conferences, such as town hall meetings, special short courses and workshops (see next section), and topical forums and symposia. The Annual Meeting features, on average, two “named symposia” that honor the work of distinguished members of the community. It also includes a very popular Student Conference that draws over 700 upper-class undergraduate and first-year graduate students, and an Early Career Conference aimed at professionals who are just beginning their professional career. Many of the AMS committees and boards meet during the Annual Meeting week, taking advantage of the number of members who will be present, and side meetings of non-AMS committees, advisory boards, and working groups are very common, as well. Networking opportunities for all attendees are woven through the meeting week, in the form of special luncheons, receptions, and special events sponsored by AMS, corporations, universities, or other organizations.

c. Delivery of content during and after conferences

As with journals, technology for presenting scientific results evolved rapidly starting in the 1990s. Extended abstracts collected as preprint volumes for conferences began to be created using word processors and submitted as electronic files rather than camera-ready paper copies. This allowed a year’s worth of preprint volume electronic files to be collected and made available to members and libraries on CD-ROM disks, and eventually, as the Internet became more robust, to maintain the files as searchable archives in online accessible databases.

At the meetings, use of overhead transparencies for oral presentations was replaced by computers and projectors displaying presentations created using specialized presentation software (such as Microsoft PowerPoint). In 2003, AMS began recording the oral presentations, capturing the audio of the presentation synched with the images being shown on the screen (Seitter 2004). These recorded presentations were included in the online database along with the presentation’s abstract and extended abstract (if the author chose to provide one). This technology became increasingly sophisticated, and networked computers in meeting session rooms allowed authors to upload their electronic presentation files before the session so that session talks could flow smoothly from one to the next without delays. Capabilities to allow presentations by speakers who are not physically at the meeting were also developed, but these have met with mixed reviews for effectiveness.

As meetings grew in size, it was impossible for all presentations to be done orally. Beginning in the 1980s, the use of poster sessions at conferences became more routine. Poster presentations offered the advantage of being available to attendees for browsing for an extended period (from a day to the length of the conference) and a chance for authors of the poster to have extended dialogue with interested colleagues during dedicated poster sessions. Despite these positive attributes, early implementation of poster sessions suffered somewhat from a feeling that posters were the lesser presentations. As poster sessions became ubiquitous, and with efforts to elevate their status in the meeting, papers presented as posters eventually came to be seen as being on par with oral presentations, and some authors began actively requesting to present their work as posters. Technology reached the poster world in the 2000s, with tools to create large-format posters electronically and the ability to make the poster files part of the database of presentations alongside the recorded oral presentations.

With the conference presentation database capturing the oral presentations and often electronic versions of the posters, authors perceived less value in creating a multipage extended abstract presenting the essence of their presentation. This represented a fairly dramatic transition. For decades, into the mid-1990s, conference attendees were presented with thick preprint volumes when they arrived at a conference, and well over 95% of all the presentations (oral or poster) were included in the preprint volume. By the early 2000s, printed preprint volumes were largely abandoned, and very few authors provided the nominal 4-page extended abstract that summarized the work to be presented in their talk.

10. Short courses and workshops

In the 1970s, some conferences began including “tutorial workshops” as professional development opportunities. This evolved into the current one- or two-day “short courses” that are a part of every Annual Meeting and some of the specialty conferences held separately from the Annual Meeting each year. Short courses may cover topics as diverse as how to testify in court as an expert witness, how to interpret the products from the latest satellite, instruction in a programming language such as Python, or how to use a recent release of a dispersion model (see, e.g., the listing of short courses at the 98th AMS Annual Meeting, which included those and more; AMS 2017). Narrowly focused, single-topic workshops are also sometimes part of a conference or the AMS Annual Meeting. This is a great example of AMS serving the research (and broader) community through professional development opportunities.

11. International activities

Given the inherently international character of meteorology, AMS has always been active on the international scene. Leaders in AMS have traditionally also been leaders in international organizations such as the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG; also created in 1919) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO; created in 1951 under the United Nations to replace the International Meteorological Organization that had been in existence for three-quarters of a century). It is beyond the scope of this chapter to try to chronicle all of the ways AMS leaders and AMS initiatives have contributed to international collaboration and cooperation in the atmospheric and related sciences. Three specific examples will serve to illustrate.

In 1972, following the normalization of relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by President Nixon, AMS leadership sent a letter to the president noting the longstanding international cooperation within meteorology and that AMS was prepared send a delegation to China if the two governments approved. Subsequent efforts led to the Chinese Meteorological Society inviting a delegation from AMS to visit PRC in the spring of 1974 (Fig. 1-9). It is believed that this was the first time a U.S. professional society was invited directly by its Chinese counterpart. The visit was reported on in depth in the pages of BAMS (Kellogg et al. 1974).

Fig. 1-9

. AMS delegation to China visits the Great Wall on 21 April 1974. AMS was represented by William Kellogg, David Atlas, David Johnson, Richard Reed, and Kenneth Spengler.

Fig. 1-9

. AMS delegation to China visits the Great Wall on 21 April 1974. AMS was represented by William Kellogg, David Atlas, David Johnson, Richard Reed, and Kenneth Spengler.

Under the leadership of AMS, representatives of 19 meteorological societies from around the world met during the 2009 AMS Annual Meeting (Fig. 1-10) and agreed to form the first International Forum for Meteorological Societies (IFMS). The goal of IFMS was simply “to foster and encourage communication and exchange of knowledge, ideas, and resources among the world’s more than 60 meteorological societies” (Dabberdt 2009). The first Global Meeting of IFMS was held the following year at the 2010 AMS Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, and began a series of IFMS Global Meetings approximately biennially, with different member societies hosting each. More on IFMS can be found online (https://www.ifms.org).

Fig. 1-10

. Attendees at the first meeting of the International Forum of Meteorological Societies (Dabberdt 2009).

Fig. 1-10

. Attendees at the first meeting of the International Forum of Meteorological Societies (Dabberdt 2009).

From the early 1990s onward, AMS has had programs in place (with sporadic funding support from NOAA, NSF, or NASA) to get AMS journals into the hands of scientists from the developing world. In the early years, this was done by physically mailing copies of journals to institutions in the developing world, later CD-ROMs with journal content were mailed, and more recently online access was provided to institutions at little or no cost, either directly by AMS or through larger programs, such as the Online Access to Research on the Environment (OARE) initiative (Seitter 2010). Over many years, over 120 institutions in the developing world have received AMS journals, providing an invaluable resource to the scientists in those countries.

12. AMS role in science policy

As an organization that, from the start, included leaders from government agencies and the military in addition to researchers (and eventually the private sector), AMS was always a venue for discussions on the field and how it could better serve the general public. Given its active participation in WMO activities, AMS has played a role in emerging national and international policy related to the atmosphere from its earliest years onward, on issues from weather modification and the free and open exchange of data to effective relations between government weather services and the private sector.

As the science matured, AMS was instrumental in working toward the use of research results in creating policy on issues influenced by weather and climate by publishing observations of weather impacts from above-ground nuclear testing (Holzman and Cumberledge 1946) and advocating controls on the release of chlorofluorocarbons because of their impact on the ozone layer (AMS 1976), among other issues. The research community making up AMS was, of course, instrumental in developing the understanding of how humans’ use of fossil fuels was impacting climate, and AMS publications have been the home of many seminal papers in climate science. Thus, it is no surprise that AMS has also been active from the start in working to ensure that the best available scientific knowledge and understanding have been provided to policy makers. In addition to AMS statements, AMS has been active in promoting policies that improve the nation’s resilience and support the weather, water and climate infrastructure, such as through “transition documents” prepared for new administrations (see, e.g., AMS 2009, 2016). It has also written letters to Congress and the Administration on issues ranging from science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education to preserving those portions of the electromagnetic spectrum that are needed for remote sensing (see https://www.ametsoc.org/ams/index.cfm/about-ams/ams-position-letters/). Throughout its history, AMS has spoken out visibly and forcefully on issues of scientific integrity [a particularly good example is provided in AMS (1996)].

At the January 1975 Annual Meeting of AMS, the AMS Council held an extended discussion on the role of AMS in public policy, addressing the distinction between “policy for science” and “science for policy” (Atlas 1975). Among the ideas discussed at that time was the possible establishment of a program that would place scientists in Congressional offices [AMS would realize this ambition in 2000 when it became a participant in the AAAS Congressional Fellows program (https://www.aaas.org/program/science-technology-policy-fellowships)]. The AMS Council also agreed to have a session at the 1976 AMS Annual Meeting devoted to policy issues and AMS’s role in those issues, from which a book on policy in the atmospheric sciences was a result (Atlas 1976).

AMS statements provide the official position of AMS on a scientific topic or make recommendations on a policy issue related to weather or climate. The creation of statements expanded greatly from the 1970s onward, and the library of available statements offered a way for AMS to provide input on policy issues more directly. By carrying the weight of AMS, such statements have been foundational in promoting the use of science in policy and of informing the public on the current state of the science in a subject area. STAC committees, representing groups of experts in a subject area, have always played a major role in helping to draft AMS statements, but the final approval of statements resides with the AMS Council to reinforce that a statement represents the official position of AMS as an organization and not just that of a committee or board. Statements are published in BAMS, ensuring they will be preserved in the record, and are also posted on the AMS Internet site.

After decades of relying on piecemeal and unstructured approaches to providing input on the policy process that relied heavily on the volunteer leadership of AMS, in 1999 AMS created a policy program with permanent staff as part of its structure (AMS 1999d). The role of the AMS Policy Program is to help the broader society take up and use the information and services the AMS community makes available. It provides a more formal mechanism for exploring policy issues related to weather and climate and provides input to the policy process through study reports and educational briefings from experts. The Policy Program also had a goal of providing opportunities for members of the AMS community to learn about and engage constructively with the policy process so that our community can be more effective and to the benefit of the broader society that we serve. The AMS Policy Program has enjoyed high levels of respect from policy makers at all levels for its nonpartisan and objective approach to science policy issues.

13. Education

In 1958, the Committee on Meteorology of the National Academy of Sciences released a report covering the state of research and education in meteorology and needs for the future (Berkner et al. 1958). That report noted the need for more individuals to enter the field of meteorology, and its recommendation 3 was addressed specifically to AMS, seeking assistance in addressing what was referred to as the “manpower” problem. Specifically, AMS was asked to “take the initiative and responsibility for increasing its activities in stimulating interest in meteorology ten-fold or more.” In response, with National Science Foundation support, AMS laid out a comprehensive plan to increase the number of individuals entering the field as professionals. That plan included visiting scientist programs, career guidance literature, a series of motion pictures for use in precollege classrooms, and summer science programs for high school students (Petterssen 1960). In addition to providing good career information to prospective students, in the 1980s AMS greatly expanded its undergraduate scholarship program as a way to draw the best students into the field and increase awareness of the atmospheric and related sciences as viable career paths. Similarly, in 1990, AMS launched a graduate fellowship program designed to help draw students from other sciences into the atmospheric and related sciences.

In addition to recruiting more students into the fields covered by its mission, AMS has always been active in ensuring that degree programs provide a rigorous foundation in the science. One of AMS’s standing statements has covered the minimum requirements for a bachelor’s degree in meteorology. This statement, updated every five years, on average, provides guidance for AMS on both the course topics that should be offered in a traditional atmospheric science or meteorology degree, and the sorts of facilities an institution should have to support the program. This guidance from AMS has been instrumental in ensuring strong programs across the country. More on the role AMS played in the growth of meteorology programs across the country is provided in Houghton (1996).

It is worth noting that AMS has long been concerned with drawing women and minorities into the professions it serves. Despite pioneers such as Joanne Simpson (who was the first woman to earn a doctorate in meteorology and served as the first woman AMS president in 1989) and others, the growth of women and minorities in the community has been very slow (Hartten and LeMone 2010). Active measures were taken in 1974, when AMS created separate committees for minorities and women (later merged into the Board on Women and Minorities) to find ways to actively encourage more women and minorities to enter the field (Kellogg 1974). The situation for women in the field has improved dramatically over the past few decades, with student populations being nearly equal in terms of men and women, but there is still work to be done as women leave the field in numbers higher than men (Ben-Shachar 2014). The situation for minorities has not improved nearly as much as that for white women, and the professionals making up the geosciences continue to be far from representative in terms of minorities (Wilson 2014). AMS continues to work actively on recruiting and supporting underrepresented groups in the fields covered by AMS.

14. Recognition

Another form of support for the research community is recognizing those individuals or groups who have done outstanding work. AMS began providing that recognition in 1951 with the Award for Extraordinary Scientific Achievement, and, over the years, new awards for various categories have been created (AMS 2000). Over time, many of the awards were named for deceased luminaries from the community (in some cases renaming existing awards, and in others creating a new award named for someone who exemplified the spirit of the achievement the award honored). With several dozen honors and awards now given annually, not all AMS awards are based on accomplishments in scientific research, but most are. In 1965, AMS created the membership grade of Fellow of AMS, with the AMS Constitution setting the standard for those elected to Fellow as having made “outstanding contributions to the atmospheric or related oceanic or hydrologic sciences or their applications during a substantial period of years,” and with AMS procedures specifying that no more than 0.2% of AMS’s membership will be elected to Fellow each year. AMS’s highest recognition for contributions to the field is Honorary Member, with just two or three named each year for this honor. Full listings of AMS Fellows and Honorary Members are maintained on the AMS Internet site, along with listings of all award recipients.

15. Conclusions

As is clear from the material presented in this chapter, AMS has, throughout its first century, played an integral role in the development of the atmospheric and related sciences. As a scientific society that has enjoyed strong leadership from outstanding individuals and that has a history of volunteer service from its members that is perhaps unequaled among peer organizations, AMS has been able to push forward programs and initiatives on many fronts in support of the research community. As extensive as the efforts summarized here are in support of the research community, this chapter has omitted or barely touched upon other initiatives and programs of AMS over the past 100 years, such as those supporting the development a robust meteorological private sector in the United States; training tens of thousands of precollege teachers to improve science education; offering professional certifications for those engaged in broadcast meteorology or consulting; fostering grassroots popular environmental education through local chapters; promoting effective operational activities and other services based on the science; recognizing those who have excelled in service to the community and public; connecting the user community with those in the field; improving the interactions between the academic, government, and private sector making up the weather, water, and climate enterprise; and others. The American Meteorological Society is truly an extraordinary organization and one with a proud history and a bright future.

Acknowledgments

The incredible breadth of activity reported in this chapter was due to the tireless work of literally thousands of volunteers in AMS over the past century. The authors acknowledge these contributions, noting that the individuals cited explicitly in this chapter represent but a small fraction of those who deserve credit. The authors also thank three anonymous reviewers for their detailed and very helpful reviews of the original manuscript that greatly improved this chapter.

APPENDIX A

Earth Interactions

AMS was integrally involved in discussions within the scientific publishing community on electronic journals and committed to taking advantage of electronic publishing capabilities across the entire publications platform (Seitter 1996). The concept was that a fully electronic journal would be able to extend the presentation of research results beyond the limitations of the printed page (e.g., by including animations). A working group with representation from AMS, AGU, the Association of American Geographers (AAG), the Ecological Society of America (ESA), and The Oceanographic Society (TOS) worked toward an interdisciplinary electronic journal that would exploit the capabilities of the electronic format (Seitter 1995). A small NASA grant was secured to move forward on the project. In the end, ESA and TOS decided to move in other directions, but in 1995 AMS, AGU, and AAG launched Earth Interactions (EI) as a jointly published journal that would be available in electronic form only (Seitter and Holoviak 1996).

To truly push the available technology to the limit, the journal was created directly in SGML (with both AMS and AGU publications staff members learning to work directly in this content creation environment), and subscribers were required to install the Panorama browser plug-in to allow the journal to be rendered on their screens (Seitter and Holoviak 1996). Even for the technologically savvy community served by AMS, AGU, and AAG, there was a pretty steep learning curve required to use EI, although, for the time, the display was spectacular. Even so, browser capabilities and HTML would progress so rapidly that within a decade the first articles published in EI and displayed with the Panorama browser would appear clunky and primitive.

APPENDIX B

STAC

The 1961 AMS reorganization included forming the Education and Scientific Activities Commission (later to be STAC) with the following 12 committees:

  • Agricultural Meteorology,

  • Air Pollution,

  • Bioclimatology,

  • Climatology,

  • Cloud Physics and Weather Modification,

  • Forecasting,

  • Hydrometeorology,

  • Industrial Meteorology,

  • Interaction of the Sea and Atmosphere,

  • Radar Meteorology,

  • Severe Storms, and

  • Upper Atmosphere and Satellite Exploration.

By 1962, another six committees had been added, and by 1970 there were over 20. For the 1980s and 1990s, the number remained steady at about 30, although there were changes in the disciplinary focus and name for several of them. In the early 2000s, the Scientific and Technical Activities Commission was restructured so that it included boards (typically more interdisciplinary than the committees) in addition to the 30 committees. In the mid-2000s, the commission also added separate awards committees that were responsible for recommending award recipients to the AMS Council but did not oversee conferences or symposia as do the other 36 committees and boards (for the current committee and board structure, see https://www.ametsoc.org/stac/). In 2013, STAC was restructured again, with two new commissioners added—a future commissioner and a past commissioner—following the model already in place for the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise Commission and the AMS presidency. The three-commissioner structure spread the workload among these volunteer positions and allowed a smoother transition between commissioners to improve leadership of this important commission.

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