27 October 2011

Aksel Walløe - 40 years with World Weather

Aksel Walløe Hansen is celebrating his 40-year anniversary of working with meteorology – but it is actually closer to 41½ years, he says, because he had already started programming atmospheric models in 1970, while he was still studying. In 1974 he finished his education as a meteorologist at what was then called the Institute for Theoretical Meteorology at the University of Copenhagen.

Perhaps Denmark’s leading weather expert, Aksel Walløe Hansen, is celebrating his 40-year anniversary of public service. Aksel Walløe Hansen is an associate professor, lic. scient. at the Niels Bohr Institute, where he conducts research into the climate of the Earth - Aksel is a true weather nerd

His specialty is large-scale dynamic meteorology, i.e. the waves in the atmosphere that affect the Earth’s climate. From '76 – '77 he worked at ECMWF, European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecast in England and helped implement the first realistic spectra model, which meant, that they were better able to calculate longer forecasts for the weather globally.

He then returned to the Institute for Theoretical Meteorology, which was merged with three other institutes to form the Geophysical Institute in ’84 and fate would have it that he, within two days, became the director of the institute – a position he held for five years.

In '93 there was another merge where the Geophysical Institute became part of the big new Niels Bohr Institute. Here Aksel Walløe became the chairman of the Education Committee and a very large part of his work has consisted of administration and teaching. 

“I have been the supervisor for I don’t know how many projects”, he says and names at least 30 theses, 25 PhD dissertations and countless bachelor projects.

But there have also been his own research projects, like a study of how the climate behaves when the ozone layer is diminished and he has analysed data from the climate and calibrated it with data from ice cores in order to obtain climate data where you can look far back in time. He has also studied something called global dimming, which is the weakening of the Sun’s radiation on Earth due to particles in the atmosphere, which was significant in the 60’s and 70´s.

Right now his focus is on human energy consumption and environmental impact. “Our energy consumption is increasing 2 % each year and unless we stop this, consumption will increase 100-fold in 200 years”, he explains and says that that will not due. Green energy is actually not the answer either, because such large energy consumption will still affect the Earth’s climate.

However, most of Aksel Walløes energy is used teaching, supervising and leading, as he is the Deputy Head of Education at the Niels Bohr Institute.