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History

In the 1950s the U.S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) instituted the concept of State Climatologists (SC). Generally there was one SC per state who was responsible for preparing relevant publications, quality controlling data, and acting as an interface with the general public and state agencies. Most recently, Robert B. Orton served in that role from 1960 to 1973. However, in early 1973 these positions were eliminated.

Professor John Griffiths had worked very closely with the federal SC and because of his interest, training and experience in climatology it was suggested, with the enthusiastic support of the TAMU President, Dr. Jack K. Williams, and the Dean of Geosciences, Dr. Earl Cook, that he assume these duties. This arrangement was approved in late February, 1973, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its relevant component, the National Climatic Center (now the National Climatic Data Center), and by the Office of the Governor of Texas, Dolph Briscoe. A point stressed was that Texas A&M University was established as a Land Grant institution to serve the state and the Office of the State Climatologist (OSC) could continue this mission of service and practical assistance.

In 2000, upon the retirement of Prof. Griffiths, Professor John Nielsen-Gammon was appointed Texas State Climatologist by Governor George W. Bush, according to the nomination by TAMU President Ray Bowen. Since then, the Office of the State Climatologist has filled an ever-expanding need in facilitating the best use of weather and climate information for decision-making by state and local governments, agencies, companies, groups, and individuals. The State Climatologist is an official member of the Texas Drought Preparedness Council, and the Office of the State Climatologist is an officially recognized State Climate Office by the American Association of State Climatologists. The OSC is housed in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, within the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University, and is located on the main campus in College Station, Texas.

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