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Planning Meeting for U.S.-Mexico
Workshop on Ocean Sciences





Mr. BROWN. I would now like to call next on Dr. Johnson to come up and present the picture on atmospheric conditions, which will lead us into the areas and we will spend more time on ocean drilling process.

Dr. JOHNSON. Mr. Brown, I am very glad to be here this morning to talk about the programs of the AAEO, and I have a written statement which I will give you, but I will speak briefly on that.

Mr. Brown. Without objection the full statement will be copied into the record.

[The biographical sketch of Dr. Johnson follows:]


Dr. Francis S. Johnson became the Assistant Director for Astronomical, Atmospheric, Earth, and Ocean Sciences (AAEO) in November 1979. In this position he is responsible for the development, coordination, direction, and evaluation of programs under the Divisions that constitute AAEO: Astronomical Sciences, Atmospheric Sciences, Earth Sciences, Ocean Sciences, and Polar Programs.

Prior to his NSF appointment, Dr. Johnson was the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Honors Professor of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, and also served as Executive Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. Dr. Johnson joined the predecessor institution to the University of Texas in 1961 and served as Acting President from 1969 until 1981 and as the Director of the Center for Advanced Studies there from 1971 until 1974. Earlier he served as Manager of Space Physics Research at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Palo Alto, California and as Head of the Upper Atmosphere Research Section of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. During World War II, he served as a meteorologist in the Army Air Force.

Dr. Johnson was born in 1918 in Omak, Washington; received a B.S. in physics from the University of Alberta (Canada) in 1940, and an M.A. in 1942 and a Ph. D. in meteorology in 1958 from the University of California at Los Angeles. His main research interests are in the fields of upper atmosphere and space physics, planetary science, and solar radiation and he has authored and co-authored numerous publications in these areas.

Included among his awards, Dr. Johnson has received the Space Science Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Henryk Arctowski Medal from the National Academy of Sciences, the Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the John A. Fleming Award from the American Geophysical Union, and the Meritorious Civilian Service Award from the Air Force.

Dr. Johnson is active in many professional societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Astronomical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Meteorological Society, the American Physical So ciety, the Committee on Space Research (U.S. Representative and Vice President, 1975–81), the Special Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and Sigma Xi. Over the years he has served in an advisory capacity to many government agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the National Bureau of Standards, the U.S. Air Force and the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. and Mrs. Johnson reside in Arlington, Virginia.



Dr. Johnson. First of all, I will emphasize special aspects of the programs of this directorate which are different from most other sciences. We are concerned with observational science; we can't perform controlled laboratory experiments. For example, we have to observe

the ocean and stars as they are. This requires advanced instrumentation, and it is exceedingly expensive. It inevitably leads to heavy emphasis on facilities. Good facilities are required in order to make the observations on which scientific advances in these fields are based.

We are very appreciative of the assistance this committee has given in the past in supporting these programs and providing good facilities so that progress can be made in these fields.

In the field of astronomy, I will mention first the Very Large Array that has been the major construction effort in recent years. At this time 21 of the 27 antennas are in place and operating; the remaining ones are at the site but not yet completely equipped for operation. There are 37 miles of track on which these antennas are placed. This is an absolutely first-rate observational facility for radio astronomy.

Another event worth mentioning in astronomy is the evidence that has been found for gravitational waves growing out of observations of a binary pulsar, and relativity predictions that such a system would generate gravitational waves. The net consequence of the emission of gravity waves on the binary-pulsar system is to cause the system to contract and speed up, the rate of rotation should increase. Such an increase has been observed in just the right amount to agree with the theory. This is the first instance of getting evidence that pertains directly to the emission of gravitational waves.

The major new observational thrust coming up in astronomy is in millimeter-wave astronomy, and we are requesting funds to start a 25meter diameter millimeter-wave telescope. This will be particularly useful for observing chemistry in space-some of the complicated molecules in space—whose existence was not even suspected a few years ago. Observations in this region of the radio spectrum provide clear evidence of such molecules.

In atmospheric sciences, an exciting development in the instrumentation area is triple Doppler radar, which makes it possible to look at the windfield in convectional storms with a degree of detail that never existed before. This ability provides great hope for improved understanding of these convectional storms.

We have conducted during the past year a significant monsoon experiment in cooperation with 10 countries predominantly in the Indian Ocean area.

In Earth sciences, a notable new technique that has emerged recently has been the measurement of neodymium isotopic variations resulting from radiation decay of samarium. Applying this technique, we are able to get the ages of geological samples. A significant result obtained with this technique: No crust of the Earth has been found that is older than 3.6 billion years. It appears that any crust existing before that date has returned into the interior of the Earth. The Earth is 41/2 billion years old, but any crust that existed earlier has apparently been convected back into the Earth's interior.

The technique is also useful in that neodymium is chemically similar to plutonium, and that makes it possible to predict how plutonium will spread in the environment. This will be of value in assessing the hazards of plutonium in the environment.

Another exciting development has been the contribution to the theory of plate tectonics by the drilling cores retrieved from various ocean sites by the Glomar Challenger. The cores have also contributed and will continue to contribute to our knowledge of past climates and other paleontological information. I hope you have seen the television program on that; it is an exciting one.

In ocean sciences, there have been valuable observations of hydrothermal vents at the ocean bottom, showing mineral deposits and unusual life forms.

This year was the 50th anniversary of the Byrd flight to the South Pole, and there was a memorial flight in which Congressman Wydler and Senator Byrd took part. It was disturbed in some degree, as you all know, by the crash of a New Zealand airliner in Antarctica. Fortunately, we were able to render good support to the recovery operation and overall the accident had minimum impact on our scientific programs.

We will come back to the deep sea drilling program, so I won't say anything about that just now.

In this directorate there is a great need for a proper mix of facilities and individual research projects. We are highly aware of the importance of such a mix. There is a difference of opinion at times as to what the mix should be, but both large facilities and research projects by individual investigators are essential to progress. We are attentive to the task of seeing to it that we have the right rates of support in the two areas and we think our budget request represents such a ratio.

I will forego any comments on the interdisciplinary nature of research efforts in the directorate, but I will say in conclusion that the programs of this directorate are important, they are intellectually exciting, and they are worthy of the support they are receiving. Thank you.

[The prepared statement of Dr. Johnson follows:]






February 6, 1980

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

This statement is submitted in support of the Budget Request for

Fiscal Year 1981 for the Astronomical, Atmospheric, Earth, and Ocean
Sciences, for the U. S. Antarctic Program, and the Ocean Drilling
Program. The NSF is seeking significant increases in funding for areas
of research and specific projects that are of importance to the country.

The AAEO Directorate's efforts have been highly successful in

recent years in terms of the outcome of the research work that it has been

supporting. In large measure this success can be attributed to many new

sophisticated instruments and items of equipment that have been obtained

as a result of favorable action on the AAEO budget by the Congress and

in particular by this Committee. I would like to cite just a few examples of these. In astronomy we have the two 4-meter telescopes at Kitt Peak

and Cerro Tololo and the Very Large Array; in atmospheric sciences we are

getting interesting and useful results from a pair of independent incoherent

scatter radars located in Alaska and Massachusetts, and some valuable

modeling of the ocean-atmosphere system with the new computer at NCAR.

In the earth sciences arena we are obtaining a wealth of information about

plate tectonics and about the past climate of the earth from cores brought

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