Most people, even including some in the scientific community, do not realize how much the weather forecasts they use to guide the activities of their daily lives depend on very complex mathematics and numerical methods that are the basis of modern numerical weather prediction (NWP). André Robert (1929–1993), to whom Numerical Methods in Atmospheric and Oceanic Modelling is dedicated, had a career that contributed greatly to the growth of NWP and the role that the atmospheric computer models of NWP play in our society. There are probably no NWP models running anywhere in the world today that do not use numerical methods introduced by Robert, and those of us who work with and use these models everyday are indebted to him.
The first two chapters of the volume are chronicles of Robert's life and career. The first is a 1987 interview by Harold Ritchie, one of Robert's many proteges and colleagues at the Canadian Atmospheric Environment Service. The interview traces Robert's life from his birth in New York to French Canadian parents, to his emigration to Quebec at an early age, his education and early employment, and his rise in stature as one of the preeminent research meteorologists of our time. An amusing anecdote he relates is his impression of weather forecasts while he was considering his first job as a meteorologist in the early 1950s. A newspaper of the time placed the weather forecast and daily horoscope side by side, and Robert regarded each to have a similar scientific basis. Thankfully he soon realized there was a difference between the two, and his subsequent career certainly confirmed the distinction.