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August 1997 EXTRA!


Lev Gandin, 1921-1997

Lev Gandin, a senior scientist at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) through the UCAR Visiting Scientist Programs, died at his home on 25 June. Lev was a world-renowned expert on the use of objective analysis in meteorological fields and a frequent collaborator with scientists at NCEP, NCAR, and elsewhere.

Rol Madden (CGD) was one of the many NCAR researchers who worked with Lev. "I came to know him about 5 years ago because I became interested in optimal averaging--essentially, the best way to bring scattered observations together to form a spatial average. Gandin was a pioneer in that effort, so I invited him here to give a talk and 'picked his brain,' so to speak. He was a gracious man who wasn't afraid to ask tough questions."

Bill Bonner, former director of UOP and now a senior research associate in MMM, also worked with Lev. "He was a gentle man, with a subtle sense of humor and a deep involvement in whatever problems he worked on," says Bill.

Below is a summary of Lev's life and work, courtesy of Eugenia Kalnay (NCEP) and Michael Fox-Rabinovich (NASA). --BH


Lev Gandin was born in Leningrad, in the former Soviet Union. His parents were both prominent medical scientists. As a talented young man, he was confronted with the difficult choice of becoming either a musician, a chess player, or a mathematician. Following the advice of his mother, he chose the latter and never regretted it.

He graduated from the School of Mathematics and Mechanics at Leningrad State University as an applied mathematician in 1945. It took him just one additional year to obtain his Ph.D. in 1946. He was drafted into the Soviet army during World War II.

In 1943 he joined the U.S.S.R.'s Main Geophysical Observatory and worked there till 1981, when he was fired after he applied for emigration from the former Soviet Union. From the early 1950s until he applied for emigration, he was also a professor at the Leningrad Hydrometeorological Institute.

Over the years, he made enormous contributions in the areas of objective analysis of meteorological fields, dynamic meteorology, numerical weather prediction, climate theory, applied meteorology, and climatology. His pioneering work on optimal interpolation analysis was a major advance that brought him well-deserved recognition throughout the world's scientific community.

Lev Gandin wrote over 200 journal papers and 14 books. In addition to his internationally famous classic Objective Analysis of Meteorological Fields (1963), he co-authored Dynamic Meteorology (1955), Applied Meteorology (1973), and several textbooks.

Lev supervised over 100 master's degree students and over 20 doctoral students. His former students are working now all over the world, in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the former Soviet Union. Through their work and the work of those inspired by his ideas, he established his legacy in our field.

From 1981 to 1987 Lev continued work at home, being consulted by his colleagues, and he even taught at home for free. Many of his U.S. and European colleagues and friends visited with him during that difficult and uncertain time. He always had an enormous gratitude to those who remembered him at that time. During this time he also developed his last major contribution to meteorology, the theory of complex quality control.

After he emigrated to the U.S. in December 1987, Bill Bonner and Ron McPherson offered Lev a UCAR/Visiting Scientists Program senior scientist position at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP, formerly NMC). He considered this a great second chance in his professional life, and he enjoyed every moment of it. He deeply respected people who worked with him, and in particular enjoyed ten years of fruitful collaboration with William Collins. They developed and implemented a highly successful complex quality control system at NCEP that has since been adopted at many other centers. Lev was very proud of his contributions to the overall NCEP effort and happy that he was able to work at NCEP almost to his end.

Lev was survived by his wife Nadezhda and his sons Nick and Alexey. Their love and support enlightened his entire life. His friends and colleagues will remember him as a superb pioneering scientist and as a great human being.


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Edited by Bob Henson,