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Dr. William P. Lowry
Dr. William P. Lowry

The late Dr. William P. Lowry was best known as a Professor of biometeorology and climatology, and author of several definitive articles and textbooks on these and related subjects.


After earning a Master's degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1955, Dr. Lowry came west to work for the US Army Corps of Engineers in Soda Springs, California. He held positions with the Oregon Forestry Department in Salem and the Oregon Forest Research Laboratory in Corvallis in the 1950s and 60s, and was appointed Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University after completing his Ph.D. in 1962.


In 1970, Dr. Lowry joined an interdisciplinary team of teachers and researchers under the guidance of Prof. Ian McHarg in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. In 1971, he worked and wrote for the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. From 1972-1981 he lived and worked in Urbana, Illinois, first for the Illinois Water Survey on its Project METROMEX, studying urban climate in and around St. Louis, then for the University of Illinois where he was Professor of Geography and then of Ecology.


Dr. Lowry retired and returned to Oregon in 1981, where he wrote and worked as a consulting meteorologist. He returned briefly to the University of Pennsylvania as a visiting professor, and taught locally at OSU, Linfield College, and Chemeketa Community College. In January, 1998, the American Meteorological Society recognized and honored Dr. Lowry's lifetime contributions to the field of biometeorology, as a teacher and research scientist, by selecting him for its infrequently granted Award for Outstanding Achievement in Biometeorology. (Click here for Dr. Lowry’s complete professional history.)


Of Dr. Lowry's numerous writings, the best known include a classic Scientific American article, "The Climate of Cities" (1966), and the first textbook ever on the subject of biological meteorology, Weather and Life (1969). Around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970 he contributed several booklets and articles on the subject of air pollution meteorology, and after his work for METROMEX and a professional visit to Hungary in the early 80s, he authored and co-authored a series of articles on urban temperature and precipitation. Eventually these culminated in an important review article, "Urban Effects on Precipitation Amount," published in 1998 in the British journal Progress in Physical Geography. (See below for citations of selected publications.)


After retirement, Dr. Lowry produced two substantial textbooks. The first, entitled Atmospheric Ecology for Designers and Planners (1987), was based on his interdisciplinary experiences at the University of Pennsylvania. It involved collaborations with landscape architect Aron Faegre of Portland and architect John Reynolds of the University of Oregon, and was illustrated by Lowry's younger son. The second textbook, a two-volume work entitled Fundamentals of Biometeorology, coauthored with his elder son, expands on the earlier Weather and Life to present the full sweep of the subject and stands to become a classic textbook in the field. Volume I of Fundamentals was published in 1989; Volume II, Professor Lowry’s final work, appeared in 2002.


Proceeds from the sale of these books will be contributed to the William P. Lowry Memorial Fund, established to help support graduate research in biometeorology.


Apart from his professional projects, in which he maintained a passionate involvement until the end of his life, Dr. Lowry contributed frequently to causes including environmental awareness, civil liberty, civil rights, and human rights, as well as to his community and the lives of his many friends. In retirement, he worked with numerous local arts, political, and community organizations, spearheading several of them. He had a powerful interest in politics, history, geography, and people; a strong moral compass; and a commitment to integrity and to action.


 – Samuel C. Lowry and Porter P. Lowry II






1956      “Evaporation from forest soils near Donner Summit, California, and a proposed field method for estimating evaporation,” Ecology, v. 37, 419-430.

1959      “Energy budgets of several environments under sea-breeze advection in western Oregon,” J. Meteor., v. 16, 299-311.

1962      “Standardizing field estimates of evaporative soil moisture loss rates,” Ecology, v. 43, 757-760.

1966      “The climate of cities,” Sci. American, August, p. 15.

1977      “Empirical estimation of urban effects on climate: a problem analysis,” J. Appl. Meteor., v. 16, 129-135.

1978    “An attempt to detect the effects of a steelworks on precipitation amounts in Central Hungary,” J. Appl. Meteor., v. 17, 964-975.

1980      “Clear-sky direct-beam solar radiation versus altitude: a proposal for standard soundings,” J. Appl. Meteor., v. 19, 1323-1327.

1998      “Urban effects on precipitation amount,” Progress in Physical Geogr., v. 22, 477-520.




      1975      “The meteorological setting for dispersal of air pollutants” (with R. Wanta), Chapter 8 in Air Pollution: Third Edition, Volume 1, A.C. Stern (Ed.), Academic Press, New York.

1976      “Weather modification” (invited), McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology.

1979      “Interactions between cities and their local and regional weather and climate,” Chapter 6 in Western European Cities in Crisis, M. Romanos (Ed.), D.C. Health, Lexington, MA.

1979      “North American research concerning the effects of urbanization on local and regional weather and climate,” in Urban Development in the USA and Hungary, Gy. Enyedi (Ed.), Akademiai Kiado, Hungarian Academy of Science, Budapest.




      1969      Weather and Life: An Introduction to Biometeorology, Academic Press, New York.

      1969      Biometeorology: Proceedings of the 28th Annual Biology Colloquium (Editor), Oregon State University Press, Corvallis.

      1972      Fundamentals of Air Pollution (with A.C. Stern, H. Wohlers, and R. Boubel), Academic Press, New York.

      1972      Compendium of Lecture Notes in Climatology (for Class-IV Meteorological Personnel: WMO No. 327; for Class-III Meteorological Personnel: WMO No. 335), World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

      1988      Atmospheric Ecology for Designers and Planners, Peavine Publications, McMinnville, OR.

      1989      Fundamentals of Biometeorology: Interactions of Organisms and the Atmosphere Volume 1: The Physical Environment  (with Porter P. Lowry II), Peavine Publications, McMinnville, OR.

      2001      Fundamentals of Biometeorology: Interactions of Organisms and the Atmosphere Volume 2: The Biological Environment  (with Porter P. Lowry II), Peavine Publications, McMinnville, OR.




1982-98 – Self-employed Consultant (McMinnville, OR)

      Concurrent part-time appointments:

      Oregon State University (Corvallis)

            Professor of Atmospheric Science (1982-85)

            Professor of Forest Science (1986-98)

            Professor of Science Education (1986-98)

      University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)

            Professor of Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning (1986-96)

      Linfield College (McMinnville, OR)

            Professor of Science and Mathematics (1986-94)

      Chemeketa Community College (Salem, OR)

            Instructor in Physical Science (1985-94)

1973-82 – University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)

            Professor of Geography (1973-82)

            Professor of Ecology (1976-82)

            Professor in the Institute for Environmental Studies (1973-82)

            Adjunct Professor of Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering (1974-82)

1972-73 – Illinois State Water Survey (Urbana-Champaign)

            Senior Scientist, Atmospheric Sciences

1971 (Aug-Dec) – World Meteorological Organization (Geneva, Switzerland)

            Consultant to Education and Training Office

1970-71 – University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)

            Visiting Assistant Professor of Regional Planning, Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning

1961-72 – Oregon State University (Corvallis)

            Associate Professor of Biometeorology (1968-72)

            Assistant Professor f Biometeorology (1964-68)

            Assistant Professor of Forest Meteorology** (1961-64)

1957-61 – Oregon Forest Research Center (Corvallis)

            Research Meteorologist**

1955-57 – Oregon State Board of Forestry (Salem)

            Research Meteorologist**


            (** These three positions are actually the same: change of title and location only)


1953-55 – University of Wisconsin (Madison)

            Research Associate in Meteorology

1951-53 – US Army Corps of Engineers (Soda Springs, CA)

            Physicist; Snow, Ice & Permafrost Research Establishment (SIPRE)




Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) – 1965

Certified Consulting Meteorologist, American Meteorological Society – 1970

Licensed Private Pilot (FAA Certificate No 1 945 968: ASEL) – 1969

Consultant to three Oregon Regional Air Pollution Authorities: Lane (Eugene), Willamette (Salem) and Columbia (Portland) – 1968-70

Award for Outstanding Achievement in Biometeorology, American Meteorological Society (for lifetime contributions to the field of biometeorology as teacher and research scientist) – 1998





      Georgetown University (Washington, DC)  1943-44

      University of Cincinnati (Ohio)

            College of Engineering  1945-46/1948

            College of Liberal Arts  1948-50      A.B. (Mathematics) 1950

            Graduate School (Physical Geography)  1951

      University of Wisconsin (Madison)  1953-55      M.S. (Meteorology) 1955

      Oregon State University (Corvallis)  1957-62      Ph.D. (General Science) 1962*


            *An interdisciplinary degree program – fields of study included Meteorology; Statistics and Operations Research; Plant Ecology and Physiology



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