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Gunter Weller
Gunter Weller

Gunter Weller was interviewed on May 4, 2000 by Bill Schneider at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks, Alaska. In this interview, Gunter talks about his scientific research and career at the Geophysical Institute. He discusses his research on climate change in the Arctic and Antarctic, what it was like working at the Institute, leadership at and legacy of the Institute, and future research needs. He also talks about the interdisciplinary and collaborative research he was involved with on global climate change, specifically Japanese involvement in polar research.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2000-18-01

Project: Geophysical Institute 50th Anniversary
Date of Interview: May 4, 2000
Narrator(s): Gunter Weller
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
Location of Interview:
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1) Migrating to Australia and shaping his career.

2) Becoming involved in research in Antarctica.

3) The Geophysical Institute and moving to Alaska.

4) The atmosphere of the Geophysical Institute at the time.

5) How the Geophysical Institute operated.

6) The Geophysical Institute under the directorship of Juan Roederer.

7) The Geophysical Institute under the directorship of Syun Akasofu.

8) Japanese involvement in polar research.

9) Discussion on global climate change and Geophysical Institute involvement.

10) Analysis of global climate change.

11) The multi-disciplinary nature of researching climate change.

12) Sorting out natural versus man-made variation in climate change.

13) Finding the balance between disciplinary and interdisciplinary science.

14) Contrasting the Arctic and Antarctica and the competency of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

15) Looking to the future and the direction of the Geophysical Institute.

16) Research needs for the future.

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Section 1: parents -- migrated\ Europe\ Australia -- relatives\ foreign country\ education -- university\ Alaska\ citizenship -- Australian\ citizen -- American\ aeronautical engineer\ polar regions research\ meteorology\ Australian -- Antarctic expeditions\ International Geophysical Year\ Antarctica\ Arctic|

Section 2: Antarctica\ scientific research\ dissertation -- Ph.D\ United States Antarctic Research Program\ South Pole Station\ Plateau Station\ cruise ships -- lecturing\ Alaska\ Mather, Keith -- Australian\ assistant professor\ Russian icebreaker\ Northwest Passage\ Northeast Passage\ mother -- Australia\ father -- deceased\ brother -- engineer|

Section 3: Mather, Keith\ Elvey, Christian\ Australian newspaper -- science correspondent\ Geophysical Institute -- director\ katabatic winds\ Alaska -- move\ space physics\ Auroral studies\ meteorology program\ earth geophysics\ volcanology\ seismology\ Geophysical Institute -- interdisciplinary\ federal agencies\ research -- funding\ Elvey Building\ International Arctic Research Center|

Section 4: science -- important\ science -- expansion\ cold war\ Geophysical Institute -- expansion\ Arctic research\ Mather, Keith\ staff -- interaction\ meteorology\ executive director -- Geophysical Institute\ foreigners -- visa\ business manager|

Section 5: Geophysical Institute -- faculty members\ relationships -- close\ office -- Benson, Carl\ seminars\ Mather, Keith\ senior scientists\ advisory group\ university system -- bureaucratic\ University of Alaska\ chancellor\ vice president -- research\ Ray, Peter\ hiring\ books -- balancing\ Eugene, Oregon\ Keith Mather Library|

Section 6: Mather, Keith\ Geophysical Institute -- directors\ Roederer, Juan -- Argentina\ structure -- European\ director -- formal\ Geophysical Institute -- budget\ University of Alaska -- presidents\ legislature -- micromanagement\ federal funding\ research -- consolidated\ Alaska Synthetic Aperture Radar Facility\ National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) -- funding\ data -- archiving\ data -- distributing|

Section 7: Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment Program\ petroleum -- effects\ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration\ Bureau of Land Management\ Akasofu, Syun\ space physics -- expert\ Aurora -- substorm\ awards -- Emperor of Japan\ awards -- U.S. agencies\ Geophysical Institute -- budget\ Stevens, Senator Ted\ Poker Flat Research Range -- upgrade\ rocket launch\ environmental investigation\ International Arctic Research Center -- architect\ Japan -- connections|

Section 8: Japanese -- arctic expertise\ Antarctica\ National Institute for Polar Research\ University of Hokkaido\ climate impact\ climate change\ International Arctic Research Center\ Japan -- financial contributor\ tropical systems\ monsoons\ El Nino\ climate research\ polar research -- signals\ high latitudes\ fisheries -- economic interests\ forestry\ earth systems model\ super computer\ computers -- development\ human genome project|

Section 9: climate change -- attention\ global change\ Kyoto Treaty\ Rio de Janeiro, Argentina\ Berlin, Germany\ computer models\ sea level -- rise\ desertification\ food belt\ fisheries -- impact\ transportation\ water supply\ climate -- man-made\ greenhouse effect\ Geophysical Institute -- involvement\ meteorology\ permafrost -- thawing\ sea ice -- melting\ glacier -- melting\ biology -- forestation\ fisheries -- impact\ federal agencies -- funding|

Section 10: permafrost -- melting\ glaciers -- melting\ sea level\ biology -- tundra\ boreal forest\ Seward Peninsula\ marine science -- arctic oscillation\ impact assessment\ impact -- physical\ impact -- societal\ impact -- biological\ impact -- economic\ impact -- subsistence\ land mammals\ beaver\ Nome, Alaska\ moose\ species -- movements\ forest -- growth\ School of Agriculture and Land Resource Management\ forest fires\ North America\ global climate change\ Geophysical Institute|

Section 11: workshops\ academics\ industry\ stakeholders -- climate change\ meteorologist\ glaciology\ polar regions\ biological science\ social science\ Yukon Territory\ Bering Sea\ Lena River\ MacKenzie River\ assessment -- international\ circum-Arctic assessment\ Siberia\ Europe\ climate -- trends\ Greenland\ Labrador\ Arctic Climate Impact Assessment|

Section 12: variations -- man-made\ annual mean -- warming\ winter annual mean\ meteorological stations\ climate -- variations\ ice ages\ variation -- natural\ greenhouse effect -- man-made\ input -- solar\ El Nino\ Arctic oscillation|

Section 13: research -- narrow\ knowledge -- intimate\ research -- funding\ National Science Foundation\ big science\ teams -- perspective\ federal agencies -- funding\ Geophysical Institute\ Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment Program\ Alaska -- Synthetic Aperture Radar\ International Arctic Research Center\ science -- disciplinary\ science -- interdisciplinary\ physical oceanographers\ biologists\ social scientists\ climate impact assessment|

Section 14: ice islands -- Arctic coast\ Brooks Range\ polar regions\ Antarctica\ science\ tourism\ Arctic -- more versatile\ social systems\ indigenous population\ resource issues\ national security issues\ glaciers -- Brooks Range\ tundra\ Fletchers Ice Island\ Arctic Ice Dynamic Joint Experiment on the Ice\ arctic research -- University of Alaska\ University of Colorado, Boulder\ University of Washington, Washington\ terrestrial ecosystems\ marine ecosystems\ Bering Sea|

Section 15: research -- good\ teamwork -- institutes\ International Arctic Research Center\ connections -- international\ Japanese\ Europeans\ Canadians\ Russians\ semi-retired\ climate change\ climate impact\ multi-disciplinary\ ecosystems -- vulnerability\ Bering Sea\ contaminants\ pollutants\ overfishing|

Section 16: climate change\ ecosystems\ fishery\ Bering Sea\ Antarctica\ contaminants\ overfishing\ climate impact\ earthquakes\ volcanoes\ avalanches\ sea ice\ environmental conditions\ alternate energy -- villages\ greenhouse pollution\ living standards -- engineering solutions\ Auroral Institute|