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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 as 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 was awarded 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.

Dates: 1938-2010; Majority of material found in 1974-2005; Other: Date acquired: 2011-03-17

Atmospheric Technology Division (ATD) Records

Identifier:  - 04-03-ATD

Arrangement is by original order. The collection is organized into 4 series housed in 8 record cartons: Series 1: Administrative, 1969-2001, undated Series 2: Correspondence, 1970-1980 Series 3: Facilities, 1969-1997, undated Series 4: Projects, 1970-2002, undated

Dates: 1964- 2016; Majority of material found in 1972-1979; Other: Date acquired: 19800000

Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) Records

Identifier:  - GARP

Arrangement is by original order. The collection is organized into 4 series housed in 2 record cartons and 1 Hollinger box:

Series 1: Administrative, 1969-1979, undated Series 2: Advisory Panels and Committees, 1970-1973 Series 3: Correspondence, 1970-1972 Series 4: Research, 1966-1976, undated

Dates: 1966-1979; Majority of material found in 1970-1972

Global Atmospheric Research Programme Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE) Records

Identifier: 04-03-02-GATE

Arrangement is by original order. This collection consists of 11 series in 50 boxes: Series 1: Research and Data, 1972-1978 Series 2: Administrative, 1974-1979 Series 3: Committees and Advisory Panels, 1971-1976 Series 4: Correspondence, 1974-1977 Series 5: Publications, 1973-1978 Series 6: Reports, 1974 Series 7: Student Participation, 1973-1974 Series 8: Workshops, 1976-1977 Series 9: Films, 1974 Series 10: Photographs and Slides, 1974 Series 11: Videotapes, 1974

Dates: 1972-1979; Majority of material found in 1974-1978

Joachim P. Kuettner Papers

Identifier:  - 04-JPK

Arrangement is by material type. The collection consists of seven series in eight boxes: Series 1: Field Projects, 1969-2007, undated Series 2: General, 1962-2009, undated Series 3: Presentations, 1983-2010, undated Series 4: Research, 1938-2006, undated Series 5: Soaring, 1949-2007, undated Series 6: Audio-Visual, 1966-2010, undated Series 7: Artifacts

Dates: 1938-2010; Majority of material found in 1974-2005; Other: Date acquired: 2011-03-17

Monsoon Experiment (MONEX) Records

Identifier:  - 04-MONEX

Arrangement is by material subject. The collection consists of five series in four boxes. The contents of each series is arranged chronologically. The series arrangement of the records is as follows: Series I: Administrative, 1979-1980, undated Series II: Reports, 1977 October- 1981 July, undated Series III: Research, 1976-1979 Series IV: Meetings, 1976 January- 1980 March, undated Series V: Correspondence, 1978 December-1980 April

Dates: 1976-1981; Majority of material found in 1978-1979; Other: Date acquired: 2010-10-11

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

Identifier:  - TOGAC

Arrangement is mostly by original order. This collection consists of 7 series in 2 boxes:

Series 1: Administrative, 1987-1994, undated Series 2: Correspondence, 1985-1994, undated Series 3: Meetings and Workshops, 1988-1996, undated Series 4: Plans and Reports, 1985-1994, undated Series 5: Logistics, 1991-1992, undated Series 6: Research, 1991-1996, undated Series 7: Audio-Visual Materials, 1992-1993, undated

Dates: 1985-1996; Majority of material found in 1989-1992; Other: Date acquired: 20100000