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Biographical entry Schwerdtfeger, Peter (1935 - 2013)

23 December 1935
Göttingen, Germany
20 August 2013
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


Peter Schwerdtfeger was a meteorologist whose interests included airborne and boundary layer meteorology; solar and atmospheric radiation; the use of aircraft in atmospheric science and remote sensing; regional climatology; glaciology, particularly sea-ice and icebergs; environment and land-use, remote sensing imagery and GIS. His close involvement with Antarctic meteorology began in 1962 when he initiated and supervised a long term continuing program of micrometeorology and sea ice studies. In 1971 he became Professor of Meteorology at Flinders University, the first such appointment in Australia. Through his efforts the University became recognised internationally as a centre for research in atmospheric sciences. Schwerdtfeger was co-founder of Airborne Research Australia and founding Director of the Flinders Research Institute for Atmospheric and Marine Sciences. The Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows, of which he was the foundation President, named its biennial award the Peter Schwerdtfeger Award. The Schwerdtfeger Automatic Weather Station in Antarctica was named in his honour.



Education - BSc, University of Melbourne
Education - MSc, University of Melbourne
1959 - 1962
Career position - Teaching fellow, McGill University, Canada
Education - PhD, McGill University, Canada
1962 - 1971
Career position - Lecturer, Department of Meteorology, University of Melbourne
Career position - Visiting Professor, University of Alaska
Career position - Visiting Professor, University of Köln
Award - Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship
1971 - 1999
Career position - Professor of Meteorology, Flinders University of South Australia
1972 - 1993
Career position - Director, Flinders Institute of Atmospheric and Marine Sciences
Career position - Visiting Professor, University of München
1977 - 1980
Career position - Dean, School of Earth Sciences, Flinders University
1977 - 1984
Career position - Chairman, South Australian Country Fire Services Board
1982 - 1990
Career position - Member, South Australian Air Pollution Appeal Board Clean Air Committee
1983 - 2009
Career position - President, Alexander von Humboldt Fellows Association in Australia
1984 - 1990
Career position - Vice-President, International Glaciological Society
1986 - 1988
Career position - Member, Australian Marine Sciences and Technologies Advisory Council
1986 - 1989
Career position - Chairman, Australian National Committee for Atmospheric Sciences
1988 - 2015
Career position - Fellow, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Award - Max Planck Research Prize, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany)
1995 - 2013
Career position - Co-founder (later Senior Advisor), Airborne Research Australia
Life event - Retired
Career position - Professor Emeritus, Flinders University
Award - Centenary Medal for service to Australian society in atmospheric and environmental science
2002 - 2006
Career position - Member, Bureau of Meteorology Advisory Board
2003 - 2013
Career position - Member, Antarctic Science Advisory Committee, Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition
Award - Distinguished member, Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows

Published resources

Journal Articles

  • Allison, Ian, 'Peter Schwerdtfeger and the beginnings of ANARE sea ice research', Aurora Journal, 34 (1) (2014), 17-8. Details
  • Anon, 'Peter Schwerdtfeger was a meteorological pioneer', Focus, 180 (2013), 38. Details
  • Zillman, John, 'Obituary: Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, 23 December 1935-20 August 2013', Bulletin of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, 26 (5) (2013), 85. Details
  • Zillman, John W., 'The remarkable German contribution to Australian meteorology', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, 127 (1) (2015), 110-6, Details


Helen Cohn