Mourning for Larry Gates

The Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) has lost a great friend. Prof. William Lawrence (“Larry”) Gates, climate researcher, and long-term friend of our institute, died on 27 June 2022, at the age of 93.

Credit: L. Gates, private

Larry Gates has been a major supporter of the research activities of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in the 1990s as Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board. He also spent several months as a "visiting scientist" at MPI-M. He advanced the frontiers of climate science in a number of significant ways: through his own research, through his intellectual leadership in climate modeling, through his many years of dedicated service to the IPCC and WCRP, by founding a highly influential scientific journal (“Climate Dynamics”), and most importantly, by fundamentally changing the way the scientific community evaluates climate models („Model Intercomparison Projects (MIPs)”; Gates, 1992).


Prof. Bjorn Stevens, Managing Director of the MPI-M: “Larry Gates was and will forever be a personal hero. His contributions stretched from his conceptualization of the climate system, to setting the institutional foundations that enabled us to make so much progress in understanding it. The very first figure of the first IPCC report reproduced a figure drafted by Larry, and the very last byte of model output produced in support of the last IPCC report was enabled by institutions he disproportionately shaped. No one has influenced the field so profoundly and yet so humbly.”


W. Lawrence (Larry) Gates was born in Pasadena, California on 14 September 1928, and received his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral (1955) degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), all in meteorology. His first employment outside the university was as a member (and later director) of the Numerical Prediction Project at the Air Force Cambridge Research Center in Massachusetts during 1953-1957. He then accepted an appointment as Assistant (and later Associate) Professor in the Department of Meteorology at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he remained until 1966 when he joined the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica as the Director of their Climate Program. In 1976 he became Professor and Chairman of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences (and founding Director of the Climatic Research Institute) at Oregon State University. Continuing to divide his career between research posts and academia, he returned to California in 1989 as the (founding) Director of the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and later as the Director of the National Institute for Global Environmental Change at the University of California at Davis. Larry Gates is the author or co-author of more than 100 scientific papers and reports, and has been a member of numerous national and international panels, committees and working groups concerned with weather prediction and climate research. During 1985-2004 he was the (founding) Editor of the international research journal Climate Dynamics.


Larry Gates has served also the WMO in many capacities, beginning with his appointment to the GARP (later World Climate Research Program (WCRP)) Working Group on Numerical Experimentation in 1974 (on which he served to 1994). During 1990-1995 he was chairman of the WGNE’s AMIP Panel and Chairman of the WCRP’s Steering Group on Coupled Models; he was a member of the ad hoc WCRP Study Group on CLIVAR during 1991-1992, and a member of the CLIVAR Scientific Steering Group during 1993-1994.  Prof. Gates became Chairman of the Joint Scientific Committee for the WCRP in 1994, continuing in that post until 2000.



Gates, W.L., 1992: AMIP: The Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project. Bull. Amer. Met. Soc., 73, 1962-1970



Dr. Annette Kirk
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Email: annette.kirk@we dont want