Pioneer of aerosol and ozone research dies
ESRL atmospheric scientist David Hofmann passed away in Boulder on 11 August 2009. He was 72. Hofmann has described his scientific focus as “simple in concept:” Commit to longterm, specific measurements; attend to the details; and focus on the big issues raised by the measurements. In a world of short-term contracts and annual budgets, such sustained endeavors can prove challenging. Yet Hofmann initiated, led, and upheld many such long-term programs during his 25 years at the University of Wyoming (UW) and 17 years at NOAA— programs to measure and analyze ozone, ozone-depleting chemicals, greenhouse gases, aerosols, and other atmospheric constituents. Most of Hofmann’s programs (and the instruments he helped develop for them) are ongoing today— testifying to his scientific foresight, persistence, and lasting influence.
Hofmann retired as Director of ESRL’s Global Monitoring Division in 2007, so that he could return to conducting science fulltime. At the Global Monitoring Annual Conference at ESRL this May, Hofmann presented results on the still slow recovery of the Antarctic ozone layer. “After Hofmann’s talk, ESRL Chemical Sciences Division Director A.R. Ravishankara said he was impressed with Hofmann’s return to research. “I can see that your retirement is good for the enterprise of science,” Ravishankara said.
The quality of Hofmann’s work is reflected in the papers he published just before his death— analyses of global trends of anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and of stratospheric aerosol results from lidars in Mauna Loa and Boulder. Some of Hofmann’s earliest research, at UW, also involved analyzing routine measurements of stratospheric aerosol. Perhaps he mused on the fact that his recent work reflected his early work (both broke new ground in stratospheric aerosol science). More likely, he was planning his next research project.
Hofmann’s scientific contributions, generosity, wisdom, and humor will be missed. He is survived by his partner, Shirley Purcell, daughters Gretchen and Jennifer, and son Karl.