The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 49.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Jerome Namias SM '41

Jerome Namias SM '41, a pioneer in meteorological research and a former MIT research associate, died of pneumonia on Monday. He was 86.

"He was the father of extended range weather forecasting," said Dan Cayan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego, where Namias was a researcher.

Namias studied the phenomena that created the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, aided in the development of weather forecasting for passenger airplanes, and was one of the first to look at how the upper layers of the ocean interact with the atmosphere to affect weather patterns.

He also helped research El Nio, the warming of the oceans in the Pacific every few years that is believed to have a significant impact on the global climate.

Namias attended the University of Michigan and then joined MIT as a research associate in 1936. He later received a master's degree from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1941.

From 1941 to 1971, Namias served as director of the extended forecast division of the National Weather Service, then known as the Weather Bureau. The division began announcing five-day forecasts in the 1940s, a feat considering the limits of the equipment at the time. During the 1960s, he developed monthly and seasonal predictions.

He joined the Scripps Institution in 1971 and established the first experimental climate forecast center.

Namias' work in meteorology also had an impact on political issues.

Namias was one of the forecasters consulted during World War II to pick a weather window when the Allies could invade North Africa.

His prediction of a warmer than normal winter during the Arab oil embargo helped persuade the government to forego gasoline rationing.

Over the course of his life, Namias earned several awards. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He won a gold medal from the Department of Commerce for distinguished achievement. Namias also authored more than 200 papers and monographs in scientific literature.

He was born in Bridgeport, Conn. and grew up in Fall River, Mass. He continued his work in meteorology until 1989 when a stroke left him disabled.

Namias is survived by his wife Edith and his daughter Judith Immenschuh.