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In Memoriam: Stan Ruttenberg, 1926–2017

In Memoriam: Stan Ruttenberg, 1926–2017

Stanley (Stan) Ruttenberg, past Chairman and Treasurer of the ICSU Panel on World Data Centers (WDCs)—the predecessor body of ICSU-WDS—recently passed away. He was a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and University of California at Los Angeles. Before chairing the WDC Panel, Stan was an instrumental participant and leader in many important global scientific projects over 50 years. Among his many accomplishments, Stan was head of the Program Office for the International Geophysical Year, participated on the Committee on Polar Research, the Space Science Board, and the Geophysics Research Board at the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS). He also served as Executive Secretary of the U.S. Committee for the International Year of the Quiet Sun, and Secretary of the Panel on the World Magnetic Survey. Also, while at the NAS, Stan was technical advisor for the award winning series "Planet Earth" in 1960–62 (updated in 1980–85).

After serving at the U.S. NAS, Stan was to spend the rest of his scientific career with the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and its associated University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. At NCAR, Stan served as assistant to its first few directors and organized many international workshops. Stan was assistant to the Joint Planning Staff for the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) and from 1970 to 1972, helped to administer the program from the World Meteorological Organization offices in Geneva, Switzerland. Upon his return to the U.S., Stan oversaw the student program in the GARP Atlantic Tropical Experiment. 

While at NCAR/UCAR, he was appointed Secretary General of the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics (now International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences), a position that he held from 1975 to 1987. Starting in 1983, Stan was Scientific Advisor to the NASA Advisory Council's Earth System Science Committee, which identified key research questions and priorities for studying climate change.

During his tenure with the WDC Panel, he was instrumental in the establishment of the World Data Centers in China. Stan was dedicated to scientific data stewardship, and especially was involved in many WDC data rescue projects. Over the past decade, he expressed enthusiastic support for the creation of the ICSU World Data System, and was very generous of his time and sage advice that drew on his long "corporate" memory. Numerous conversations with him have helped sharpen some of the early discussions on the subject, avoid some of the pitfalls, and have earned our gratitude. Stan is remembered for his diplomacy and mentorship in all of his spheres of influence, and for his boundless energy in "getting things done". He leaves as his legacy, his vision and ability to "think outside the box".

Stan was a member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Sigma Xi.

David Clark, Past Secretary WDC Panel and WDS Scientific Committee
J. Bernard Minster, Past Chair of WDC Panel and WDS Executive Committee

Stan Ruttenberg obituary: