Helmut Erich Landsberg was a noted and influential climatologist and was an important figure in meteorology and atmospheric science in education, public service and administration. He authored several notable works, particularly in the field of particulate matter and its influence on air pollution and human health. Landsberg also was the first scientist writing in English on the use of statistical analysis in the field of climatology and implemented this type of information and analysis in aiding military operations during World War II.
Landsberg received his PhD from the University of Frankfurt in Germany and then moved to the United States in 1934 to teach geophysics and meteorology at Pennsylvania State University. While there, he offered a graduate seminar on bioclimatic problems, the first such graduate course to be taught in the United States. He was subsequently appointed to the faculties of the University of Chicago (1941) and the University of Maryland (1967), with which he continued to be affiliated until his death. At Maryland, he served as first Director of the Graduate Program in Meteorology (later named the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science), and of the Institute for Fluid Dynamics and Applied Mathematics.
In 1949, Landsberg was appointed to the Air Pollution Committee by US President Harry S. Truman, where he helped to shape US air pollution regulations. From 1954-1967, he served at the US Weather Bureau as Director of the Office of Climatology.
Landsberg's early publications dealt with earthquakes, the impact of weather on aviation, atmospheric suspensions and, most notably, cloud condensation nuclei. He published a ground-breaking work on condensation nuclei, the submicrometer-sized particles in the air about which clouds form, which was the first to examine the role such particulate matter plays on air pollution and the degree to which it is retained in the respiratory system. This investigation was the basis of his later work on the impact of urbanization on climate.
The AMS Board on the Urban Environment serves as the selection committee.