Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ahmet Birol Kara

Back in the middle 1990's I had the great fortune to work with and help mentor A. Birol Kara. Birol was a graduate student in meteorology when he approached me and asked if I needed help with a book project I was starting. I quickly put him to work drafting figures. It was clear from the start that Birol was a remarkable student. He approached his work with the utmost care and from a deep analytical perspective. This gave me the opportunity to try new ideas and approaches to the study of hurricanes and climate. I decided he would be co-author and the book would be a joint effort. Although his research passion remained in understanding the physics of the atmospheric boundary layer and in air-sea interaction his habits of the mind help me became a better scientist. In the years following the book project I got to know Birol personally and counted him as a friend. In fact I believe Birol's deep sense of loyalty to himself, family and friends helps explains his approach to research; an approach rooted in the "brutally honest", which I too often find lacking in climate research. After obtaining his Ph.D., Birol worked at the Naval Research Laboratory and lived in New Orleans. Tragically he died of cancer a few weeks ago. His legacy will live on through his publications and through those who were lucky to know him.