Dr. Joseph Fletcher, Global Climate MAESTRO

[Short BIO: retired in 1993 NOAA Assistant Administrator for Ocean and Atmospheric Research; Former Director of National Science Foundation Polar Programs; Rand Corporation Climate Scientist consultant; US Air Force (retired in 1963) after 23 years of flying in Polar environments. In fact, he was the first person to fly and land an airplane on both North and South Poles. Pilot Lt.Col.William Benedict (lft) and Copilot Col.Joe Fletcher (rt) on departure for the first flight to land on the North Pole.]

 JO Fletcher died on July 6, 2008 - Obituary -

Dr. Fletcher provided a uniquely cogent review of present climate insights, and provided a Projection into the next century. His Hypothesis is based on the likelihood that past processes are cyclic, and will repeat themselves with a period of 170-180 yrs.

The historical temperatures of the Northern hemisphere is the most data rich record that is available, despite the problems associated with urban changes, and their additions to the heat-island effects. The trends are described from these data, below:



The longest available records of solar activity are those from Ice Cores, where Beryllium 10 is used as a proxy of the solar wind driven by the sun's eruptional activity.. These are shown below:



The next step in Dr. Fletcher's projection exercise was to find the parts of the historical data set that matched up with the recent data trends, on a period of about 170 years. These are marked in purple (historical) and green (matched points beginning the projection - above) on the trend line below:


The present trend is about 1.3 or so watts per meter warmer than 170 years ago, when the Little Ice Age was left behind, and the solar irradiance trended upward, toward previous Warm period levels. The projection period was offset by 1.5 Watts per meter beginning in about 1970, and extended using the "clipped" 170 years of records after 1810 or so.


Dr. Fletcher was also the major force behind the collation and continuation of the Comprehensive (Consolidated) Ocean and Atmosphere Data Sets (COADS) that provides most of the recent climate research community with their basis in historical observations, now known as the "International" COADS (ICOADS).


He kept these records up to date as a basis for much of his synthesis of what is/was going on, from historical perspectives. Among the recent insights that he gleaned was that the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool distribution and variance drives much of the earth's heat dynamics. For this reason he has derived a simple Index of the number of 4x4 lat-long squares that have SSTs >=29C:



By adding the first Graphs on top of this projected composite graphic, and adding in the COADS wind speed departures from previous studies, along with the Index of the size or coverage of the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool, the trends in the various independently collected data sets provide reason to accept Dr. Fletcher's projection of climate to be "expected over the next century":



Meanwhile, there is obviously a lot to learn from historical records, that would be missed if it were not for Dr. Fletcher's more than 50 years as a professional, applied weather and climate observer. His advocacy for implementing and maintaining global observation systems has made him one of the principals in global climate research. His interests, advocacy and energy have provided quite an important Legacy for the future of climatology, and humanity.


Now, we all need to watch, and keep updating climate records, in order that some day a more specific climate forecasting method emerges. Meanwhile, let's not forget what we already know, from available records.


We have also digitally captured Dr. Fletcher's 2 hour long Legacy Lecture at California State University Monterey Bay's World Theater, in which these and other issues were described. The B/W movies at the end were taken during his team's ventures into the Arctic (1950-53) - and show them landing and setting up Fletcher's Island - T3 - and on it went...

The Lecture is available online. Read and Learn!. - 

Or Watch the Whole 90 Minute Show in Low Resolution 

Joe, Rest In Peace.