Skip Navigation

History

Herbert RiehlThe Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University was founded in 1961 by renowned tropical meteorologist Professor Herbert Riehl. The department originally was part of the Civil Engineering Department but became an officially recognized department in March of 1962. Currently the department operates under the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering.

The department had grown to eight faculty members by 1967 when it moved to a new building in the Foothills Campus on the western edge of Fort Collins. The department has continued to grow and flourish with expanded facilities at the Foothills Campus. These facilities include the main building, which provides office and classroom space for 200 faculty, students and staff; the ATS-CIRA Research Center (ACRC), which houses ATS/CIRA personnel and classroom/lab space; the Colorado Climate Center, the Atmospheric Simulation and Chemistry Laboratory, the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA); a weather analysis laboratory which supports mesoscale and synoptic scale analyses; a satellite receiving and analysis laboratory; and the CSU-CHILL Radar Facility.

Computing capabilities include both data analysis and modeling systems that operate mainly on clusters located within the department. The department develops and operates several models including Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) and the General Circulation Model. Many smaller models are available to both researchers and graduate students.

In 1991, the Department of Atmospheric Science (ATS) was one of fifteen CSU departments recognized as a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence (PRSE). This designation was the result of a newly established, competitive application process and was effective for a four year period. PRSE designation identifies the department as high priority for maintenance and enhancement resources. Selections were made by the university administration and were based upon a consistent record of superior accomplishments in research and graduate education. Key elements in the selection of ATS for this honor included uniqueness among other atmospheric science departments in the country with regard to funding over the last decade, professional achievements and awards received by faculty and graduates, and major publications. Designation of ATS as a PRSE was subsequently renewed in competitions in 1995, 1999, 2004, and 2008. In 2012 and 2016 ATS and CIRA were jointly designated as a PRSE.

CSU Foothills Campus

Aerial view of CSU’s Foothills Campus circa 1997

The department’s faculty members are currently engaged in interdisciplinary research across a broad spectrum of the atmospheric sciences. Sponsors of these research projects include the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of Naval Research, State of Colorado, Department of Interior, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, and Environmental Protection Agency.

As of Spring 2017, the department has 19 academic faculty members who guide the formal graduate instruction program and lead the aggressive, cutting-edge research activities. The department currently has 80 graduate students enrolled.

As of Summer 2016, the department has awarded 326 Ph.D. degrees and 705 M.S. degrees. Although the department does not offer B.S. degrees, several undergraduate-level courses are available.

Department Timeline

1959
Lewis O. Grant
Herbert Riehl
CSU President William Morgan visited Herbert Riehl
1960
Herbert Riehl
Herbert Riehl starts program in atmospheric science
1961
Ferdinand Baer William Gray Elmar Reiter
initial faculty
Initial faculty recruited
1962
William Marlatt
James Rasmussen - first graduate
First graduate student: James L. Rasmussen
Department formally established
1963
Graduates
1964
Graduates
Ph.D. program started
1965
Graduates
Peter C. Sinclair
Ordnance test
Naval Ordnance Test Station
grant family
Grant family
1966
Graduates
D.B. Rao
Christman air field
Christman Airfield
1967
Graduates
Myron I. Corrin
New building
New Atmospheric Science building
1968
Graduates
Bernard Haurwitz James Rasmussen
1969
Graduates
Stephen K. Cox
1970
Graduates
Alan Betts Thomas H. Vonder Haar
1971
Graduates
1972
Graduates
Helen Poland
1973
Graduates
Wayne H. Schubert
1974
Graduates
William R. Cotton Thomas B. McKee
Tom McKee
Establishment of the Colorado Climate Center
F-107
CSU uses an F-101B to study severe storms
1975
Graduates
1976
Graduates
1977
Graduates
1978
Graduates
Duane Stevens
1979
Graduates
Richard H. Johnson
1980
Graduates
CIRA building
Establishment of the NOAA Cooperative Institute
1981
Graduates
Richard Pearson Jr. Roger A. Pielke
1982
Graduates
#2 shirt
Department ranked among top in the United States
20th Anniversary of the Department of Atmospheric Science
1983
Graduates
1984
Graduates
Graeme L. Stephens
erbssat sattellite
NASA launches CSU-led Earth Radiation Budget Satellite
1985
Graduates
1986
Graduates
Bill Cotton
Development of Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS)
1987
Graduates
1988
Graduates
David A. Randall Steven A. Rutledge
1989
Graduates
1990
Graduates
Chill Radar Facility
CHILL NSF National Radar Facility moved to CSU
1991
Graduates
Sonia Kreidenweis
Sonia Kreidenweis
Expansion of Atmospheric Chemistry program
1992
Graduates
Michael T. Montgomery
1993
Graduates
1994
Graduates
Jeffrey L. Collett Jr.
Tom Vonder Haar
Tom Vonder Harr named University Distinguished Professor
1995
Graduates
1996
Graduates
1997
Graduates
1998
Graduates
A. Scott Denning
1999
Graduates
2000
Graduates
Christian Kummerow
2001
Graduates
David Thompson
2002
Graduates
Annex building
Atmospheric Science-CIRA Research Center (ACRC) building dedicated
2003
Graduates
Hendrik Dijkstra
Tom Vonder Haar
Prof. Vonder Haar elected to the National Academy of Engineering

ATS 737 field trip to Ball Aerospace in Boulder

Ball Aerospace
CIRA personnel visit Ball Aerospace
2004
Graduates
2005
Graduates
Chemistry Building
Atmospheric Chemistry building dedicated
Graeme Stephen
Graeme Stephens named University Distinguished Professor
2006
Graduates
Center for Multi-scale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP) founded
CloudSat sattellite
CloudSat launched
2007
Graduates
Takamitsu Ito
2008
Graduates
Colette Heald Eric Maloney
2009
Graduates
Thomas Birner Susan van den Heever
ATS-West Building
ATS West dedicated
2010
Graduates
Department Group picture
Department ranked No. 1
2011
Graduates
Russell Schumacher
2012
Graduates
Chris O'Dell
50th anniverssary
50th Anniversary of the Department of Atmospheric Science
Dave Randall
Dave Randall named University Distinguished Professor
2013
Graduates
Elizabeth Barnes Emily Fischer Jeff Pierce
2014
Graduates
A. R. Ravishankara
Global Precipitation Mission
Global Precipitation Mission
Orbiting Carbon Observatory
Orbiting Carbon Observatory launch

Sonia Kreidenweis
Sonia Kreidenweis named University Distinguished Professor
2015
Graduates
Prof. Steven Rutledge
Rutledge receives NSF funding for SEA-POL
Wildfire smoke
Pierce, Fischer receive grant for wildfire smoke research

Nolan Doesken at the White House
White House kitchen garden joins CoCoRaHS
2016
Graduates
Michael Bell Kristen Rasmussen
William Gray
Professor Emeritus William Gray remembered
GOES-R capabilities
Ribbon-cutting for GOES-R antenna

ATS campus
ATS and CIRA named CSU Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence
2017
Graduates
Christine Chiu
Prof. A. R. Ravishankara
Ravishankara named University Distinguished Professor
Nolan Doesken, right, and Tom McKee
Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken retires

SEA-POL team
SEA-POL sets sail
Russ Schumacher
Russ Schumacher selected as Colorado State Climatologist

Prof. Michael Bell
Michael Bell earns Presidential Early Career Award
wildfire smoke
Fischer leads $3.8M wildfire smoke study

2018
Graduates