Jacob Bjerknes, who founded the UCLA Department of Meteorology in 1940, had a strong interest in the problem of the atmospheric general circulation. This tradition continued with Yale Mintz, a graduate student of Bjerknes's who received his Ph.D. in 1949. He continued to work at UCLA, becoming associate project director with Bjerknes. In the late 1950s, Mintz began to design numerical general circulation experiments (Mintz, 1958).
Like Smagorinsky, Mintz recruited a Japanese meteorologist, Akio Arakawa, to help him build GCMs. Arakawa, known for his mathematical wizardry, was particularly interested in building robust schemes for the parameterization of cumulus convection. Mintz and Arakawa constructed a series of increasingly sophisticated GCMs beginning in 1961. "Ironically, Arakawa's first role after joining the project was to persuade him to slow the development, giving first priority to designing model dynamics suitable for long-term integrations" (Johnson and Arakawa, 1996). The first-generation UCLA GCM was completed in 1963. Arakawa then went back to Japan, but Mintz persuaded him to return to UCLA permanently in 1965.
In the latter half of the 1960s, IBM's Large Scale Scientific Computation Department in San Jose, California, provided important computational assistance and wrote a manual describing the model (Langlois and Kwok, 1969).
Of all the GCM groups in the world, the UCLA laboratory probably had the greatest influence on others, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. This was due not only to continuing innovation (particularly in cumulus parameterization), but also to the openness of the UCLA group to collaboration and sharing. Whereas GFDL, and to a lesser extent the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), were pure-research institutions, UCLA operated in the mode of an academic graduate program. The Department of Meteorology's graduates carried the UCLA model with them to other institutions, while visitors from around the world spent time at the group's laboratories (Arakawa, 1997, personal communication to Paul N. Edwards).
Was this article helpful?