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Kuettner, Joachim P.


Dr. Joachim Kuettner (September 21, 1909 – February 24, 2011), was a German-American atmospheric scientist. Born and raised in Breslau Germany, Joachim Kuettner completed a doctorate in law and economics at age 21. Dr. Kuettner’s early career as a lawyer was short lived as he viewed the field of law too tied to the politics of the time. Dr. Kuettner switched gears to earn a second doctorate, this time in meteorology from the University of Hamburg. For his dissertation, he deployed 25 instrumented gliders to gather data on foehn waves, representing the first scientific study that described the emergence and formation of lee waves. He also set a world altitude record for gliders, soaring without oxygen—and with numb feet and blue fingers—to 6,800 meters (22,300 feet).  During the Second World War Dr. Kuettner was employed as a test pilot for the German Air Force.  During this time Kuettner flight-tested the world's largest glider, the Gigant, narrowly escaping death as the plane broke apart in flight and his parachute opened just 200 meters (660 feet) above ground. After the war, "I wanted to go to a mountaintop and be alone," Kuettner recalled. He spent three years studying many atmospheric phenomena, including thunderstorm electricity, at the observatory atop the Zugspitze, the highest point in Germany. In 1948 Dr. Kuettner came to the United States and joined the Sierra Wave Project as scientific field director, investigating lee waves at the Geophysical Research Directorate in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Then, as the U.S. space race got under way, Kuettner was invited to work with Wehrner von Braun’s team and became director of the Mercury Redstone project— at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center which culminated in 1961 by putting the first American, Alan Shepard, into space. Dr. Kuettner also headed systems integration during the early stages of the Apollo project. Dr. Kuettner coordinated and planned many international atmospheric field studies working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as the World Meteorological Organization.  This allowed him to coordinate projects including the landmark Global Atmospheric Research Program's Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE)—with more than 70 nations participating—in 1974; the Monsoon Experiment (MONEX) in 1979; and the Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment (CEPEX) in 1993. Beginning in 1986 Dr. Kuettner was based at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. During this time Dr. Kuettner took part in numerous scientific research programs including, GALE, TAMEX, TOGA-COARE, INDOEX and MAP.  His final research program with NCAR was the T-Rex project which researched terrain induced atmospheric rotors.  Dr. Kuettner awarded him the UCAR Distinguished Chair for Atmospheric Science and International Research by the National Science Foundation.  Shortly before his death in 2011, the Federal Republic of Germany presented Kuettner with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit, one of Germany’s highest civilian honors. Kuettner attributed his sustained love of atmospheric research to two traits: "curiosity and joy of adventure. If you can preserve these two wonderful afflictions through your life, you will never be able to stop exploring the atmosphere.” Research for this biographical note is courtesy of the collection as well as OSTIV and Wikipedia.
Author: Matthew Ramey
The source for this biography was compiled from the archival material, Dr. Kuettner's OSTIV obituary, and wikipedia.

Found in 7 Collections and/or Records:


Identifier: 7
Scope and Contents This Series includes books and memorabilia relating to Dr. Kuettner's research and awards and recognition granted to Dr. Kuettner.

Atmospheric Technology Division (ATD) Records

Identifier:  - 04-03-ATD
Scope and Contents The collection includes records related to NCAR's Atmospheric Technology Division's facilities, projects, and field experiments as well as correspondence, project status reports, administrative records, strategic planning documents, and informational bulletins. Selections from this collection are available online in the NCAR Library's digital repository, OpenSky.

Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) Records

Identifier:  - GARP
Scope and Contents The Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) called for an international effort that would be spread over a decade and aimed at greatly increasing knowledge of the global behavior of the atmosphere. A global observing system and a series of field programs and computer experiments were planned as part of the Program with the goal of extending the range of large-scale weather forecasts beyond the then limit of three to five days.The GARP Records include budget information,...

Global Atmospheric Research Programme Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE) Records

Identifier: 04-03-02-GATE
Scope and Contents The GARP Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE) was a large and complex international scientific experiment designed to gain an increased understanding of the atmosphere and causes of climatic variation and change. GATE sought to learn how cloud clusters in the tropic transformed and redistributed energy within the atmosphere, knowledge that was needed for the development of numerical models for long-range weather prediction and for assessing the long-term effects of pollutants on the...

Joachim P. Kuettner Papers

Identifier:  - 04-JPK
Scope and Contents This collection documents the life and work of Dr. Joachim P. Kuettner. Spanning much of Dr. Kuettner's lifetime, this collection includes material relating to his work as an atmospheric scientist with the WMO, including his involvement with the GATE Project, his career with the National Center of Atmospheric Research, and his personal research interests including his lifelong love of soaring. This collection contains correspondence, data, photographs, publications, reports, lecture notes,...

Monsoon Experiment (MONEX) Records

Identifier:  - 04-MONEX
Scope and Contents The Monsoon Experiment (MONEX) was a part of the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) and coincided with the First GARP Global Experiment (FGGE) in 1979. The MONEX Records document the scientific fieldwork of gathering data and studying monsoons from conception to completion. The collection contains administrative papers, reports, research, meetings, and correspondence. The materials are almost entirely in paper format with a few transparencies.

Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere- Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA-COARE) Records

Identifier:  - TOGAC
Scope and Contents The Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment (COARE) was designed by an international group of scientists as an integral part of the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere (TOGA) Study. TOGA-COARE brought together scientists and support staff from 20 nations. The experiment combined oceanography, meteorology, and computer climate modeling to better understand the effect of tropical warm weather regions on the tropical ocean-global atmosphere system.UCAR managed TOGA-COARE, the second...