NCAR scientist is namesake of new British lab

In August, the UK’s University of Manchester opened a brand new facility named after ESSL/MMM scientist John Latham. Latham Laboratories, located in the Simon Engineering Building at the university’s Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, pay tribute to John’s contributions to atmospheric sciences, particularly in the field of cloud microphysics. The facilities include aerosol and ice chambers, aerosol and UV labs, and more.

John LathamJohn Latham

A physicist by training, John founded the university’s Atmospheric Physics Research Group (forerunner to the Centre for Atmospheric Science) in 1961. While at Manchester he made significant contributions to scientists’ understanding of thunderstorm electrification, warm rain production, and cloud glaciation processes. He also headed the physics department on several occasions.

In 1988, John came to NCAR as a senior research associate in ESSL/MMM, where he studies cloud physics, atmospheric electricity, and global climate. His part-time position gives him more time for another of his loves: poetry. John has published five collections of poetry and won awards for his writing.

As part of the Latham Laboratories’ opening ceremony on August 19, John gave a lecture on one of his special interests: the idea of offsetting global warming by increasing the reflectivity of marine stratocumulus clouds. (For more about John’s plan, see “Cooling us off: John Latham ponders a plan to counter global warming,” from Staff Notes, May 2004.) He stressed during the lecture that while the most effective way to tackle climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a geoengineering approach that’s shown to be effective could be useful while new energy solutions are being developed.

After the talk, John officially opened the new facilities and unveiled a commemorative plaque. About sixty people attended the event.

Visitors, including John Latham (center, brown coat), tour the aerosol chamber laboratory during the dedication of Latham Laboratories. (Photo courtesy University of Manchester.)