Wednesday, September 7, 2005

JAMES C. SADLER / 1920-2005

Retired UH professor
pioneered tropical

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James C. Sadler, an internationally noted meteorologist who had a distinguished career in the Air Force and at the University of Hawaii, where he taught 22 years, died Sept. 2 at Tripler Army Medical Center. He was 85.

"He was one of the foremost meteorologists of his time, and one of the founders of tropical meteorology as a discipline," said Tom Schroeder, director of the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research and former chairman of the UH meteorology department.

Sadler joined UH as associate meteorologist in the Institute of Geophysics in 1965 and retired as professor of meteorology in 1987.

Schroeder said people around the country still treat tropical meteorology with Sadler's analyses. "A tribute to the quality of his work is that we have reissued some of his atlases as a series of compact discs."

Sadler was born in Silver Point, Tenn. He earned a civil engineering degree from the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in 1941 and was one of many scientists and engineers trained as meteorologists during World War II.

He received a meteorology certificate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1942, and in 1947 earned a master's degree in meteorology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

While in the Air Force, he made fundamental contributions in developing applications of satellite observations, which corresponded with the rapid growth in tropical meteorology.

His wife of 64 years, Nanelle "Nancy" Harding Sadler, said he worked on the first Tiros weather satellite at the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories, where he was chief of the satellite branch.

He also did research for astronauts on foreign microbiological matters of the upper atmosphere at the School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, she said.

Among other Air Force postings, he was meteorological detachment commander in Algeria; group staff meteorologist, 20th Air Force, South and East Asia; and officer-in-charge of planning, construction and operation of Sacramento Peak Solar Observatory in New Mexico.

He was loaned to UH to do research for the National Science Foundation, and when he retired from the Air Force as a colonel on a Friday, his wife said, "He went back to teaching on Monday. ... He didn't want to lose a day's work."

He applied his "unparalleled analytical skills and his exceptional experience" with tropical weather systems to issues ranging from tropical cyclone formation to the evolution of El Nino, Schroeder said.

He received an American Meteorological Society award in 1978 for his detailed study of the role of the Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough, an atmospheric feature he first described.

"He was brilliant at turning observations ... into a formulation of how the atmosphere works that to this day I have not been able to disprove in any way," said Steve Lyons, chief tropical weather meteorologist for the weather channel in Atlanta.

"Today, many try to reinvent the wheels he forged 30-plus years ago, and the only time they seem to roll is when they are exactly Jim's work. I have, and always will, remember Jim Sadler as the man who taught me how to analyze and forecast tropical weather."

Bernard Meisner, Science and Training Branch chief for the National Weather Service's Southern Region in Fort Worth, Texas, said his former UH teacher was always helpful and patient.

"He could also extract more information from a satellite image than anyone I've ever met -- even in cloud-free regions!"

Survivors besides Sadler's widow include sons James C. Jr. of Riverside, Calif., and Glen H. of Minneapolis, and daughter Letitia of San Antonio, Texas.

Military services will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. Aloha wear.

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