American Meteorological Society (Global Warming)

The American meteorological Society (AMS) supports the growth and diffusion of information and education on the atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrologic sciences and the development of their professional applications. Founded in 1919, AMS has a membership of more than 11,000 professionals, professors, students, and weather enthusiasts. AMS publishes nine atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrologic journals, both in print and online and sponsors more than 12 conferences annually. It also offers numerous programs and services.

Charles Franklin Brooks of the Blue Hill Observatory in Milton, Massachusetts, founded the American Meteorological Society. Its initial membership was formed primarily by the U.S. Signal Corps and U.S. Weather Bureau and numbered less than 600. Its initial publication, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, served as a supplement to the Monthly Weather Review, which, at the time, was published by the U.S. Weather Bureau. Many of the initial members were not professionals in the field, but after the dues increased from $1 to $2 in 1922, the amateur meteorologists began dropping out, and the AMS moved toward a membership primarily of practicing meteorologists. It has made important official statements on ozone depletion and climate change that recognize human activities as a cause of the phenomena.

The 1930s and 1940s were a period of significant progress in the atmospheric sciences, and the AMS contributed substantially to such progress through the publication of fundamental articles in the Bulletin.World War II increased a new interest in meteorology. The conflict had shown the key role that the discipline played in support of military activities in ground and air operations. A large number of meteorologists were trained as part of the wartime effort and were employed in military research during the Cold War. After the war, the military and civilian sectors of society had a substantial number of meteorologists in their ranks. The AMS saw significant growth during this period, which corresponded to the birth of many departments of meteorology at universities. Because of new research and newly-trained meteorologists, the publications and meetings of the AMS increased. C.G. Rossby served as president of the AMS 1944-45, and developed the agenda for its first scientific journal, the Journal of Meteorology, which later divided into the two AMS journals: the Journal of Applied Meteorology and the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences.

The AMS now publishes, in print and online, nine scientific journals and an abstract journal of high academic standard, in addition to the Bulletin. It also organizes over a dozen scientific conferences each year. It has published a series of monographs, as well as many other books and educational materials. The AMS administers two professional certification programs, the Radio and Television Seal of Approval and the Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM) programs. The Radio and Television Seal of Approval was established in 1957 as a way to recognize television and radio weather forecasters who present clear and scientifically-informed weather reports. The original seal of approval program will be discontinued at the end of 2008, and after that date, only the Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) seal will be offered. The CBM was introduced in January 2005, together with a 100-question multiple-choice closed-book examination as part of the evaluation process, covering many aspects of the science of meteorology and forecasting.

In the education sector, the AMS offers a variety of undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships to support students wishing to undertake a career in the atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrologic sciences. The AMS considers education as one of its strategic areas of intervention because, as its 2007 strategic goals brochure states, "the atmospheric and related sciences serve as a gateway to introduce both young people and adults to broad scientific issues."

The AMS has made several statements on climate change. It identifies climate change as one of the most important factors that will impact societies, and the environment as one of the fundamental elements that will influence the economies of developed and developing nations. The AMS’s third strategic goal is "to promote science-based decision making" about climate and weather variability. Such variability can produce huge swings in national economies; thus, it is in the interest of nations to be able to cope with this phenomenon. Global warming causes rising sea levels and retreating glaciers. The most significant changes in U.S. climate have taken place in Alaska and in the west.

Although weather has always changed for natural reasons, the AMS concludes that, at least over the last 50 years, human activities have made a major contribution to climate change. The most apparent result of human activities on climate is the rising concentration of greenhouse gases that act as a blanket to reduce the outgoing infrared radiation emitted by Earth and its atmosphere. The AMS document closes with a plea to policymakers to take better care of the Earth.

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