Remarks preceding the award to Glenn W Brier by Harry R. Glahn (Techniques Development Laboratory, U.S. National Weather Service)

Excerpts from (Murphy and Zwiers 1993):

"I feel indeed fortunate that I was asked to speak on the occasion of the presentation of this outstanding achievement award to Glenn Brier.

I first met Glenn Wilson Brier in the fall of 1958. His office was about 100 feet from mine when I started working for Roger Allen in the annex to the U.S. Weather Bureau headquarters at 24th and M streets in Washington, D.C. The annex was the old Spanish Embassy stables. (I guess the theory was that when the building became unsafe for horses, they put government workers there!) Glenn was the chief of the Statistics Section in the Office of Meteorological Research under Harry Wexler.

I remember discussing such topics as significance testing and regression with Glenn in those days and obtained my first regression program (in the days of the IBM 704) from Morris Frankel, who worked for Glenn.

Glenn was even then a very well established member of the meteorological and statistical communities. He received a master of arts degree in statistics from George Washington University in 1940. His thesis was titled "The Discriminant Function," in which he reviewed the literature on the subject and concluded, "The approach of various writers, namely Fisher, Hotelling, Mahalanobis, Neyman and Pearson, and Wilks has resulted in essentially the same solution to a particular type of problem." This was only a few years after the landmark papers on the subject of discriminant analysis by Fisher and others.

Glenn's many papers started appearing regularly in the early-to-mid-1940s, and one of the early papers that is still quoted is U.S. Weather Bureau Research Paper No. 26, entitled "A Study of Quantitative Precipitation Forecasting in the TVA Basin."

Glenn's interests in meteorology and statistics have been far ranging. It was in 1952 that he, along with but independently of G. K. Batchelor, was the first to point out the distinction between absolute and relative diffusion.

One of Glenn's continuing interests has been forecast verification, and he contributed in 1951, along with Roger Allen, the chapter in the Compendium of Meteorology entitled "Verification of Weather Forecasts." It was here that the purposes of verification were clearly laid out. And who here is not familiar with his 1950 Monthly Weather Review paper entitled "Verification of Weather Forecasts Expressed in Terms of Probability"? This paper has stood the test of proper scoring rules. The score he proposed, which he was too modest to ever call anything other than the P score, is now known worldwide as the Brier score. In these papers he stated the now obvious criterion for a verification scheme, that it "should influence the forecaster in no undesirable way." It was in 1948, when reviewing an article on verification in the AMS Bulletin that he stated, 'The various uses to which forecasts can be put and the number of purposes for which verification statistics can be used implies the nonexistence of an absolute standard." It seems that even today some of us still have to be reminded of that fact.

Glenn was an early advocate of probability forecasting and the use of probability forecasts in decision making. It was in the Monthly Weather Review in 1955 that he and Jack Thompson discussed the now famous cost-loss ratio for the two-action, two-outcome decision problem.

Glenn has contributed very significantly over an extended period of time to the analysis of weather modification experiments. Even as early as 1952 he was trying to keep the cloud seeders honest when he and Isadore Enger commented on the paper in the Bulletin entitled "An Analysis of the Results of the 1951 Cloud Seeding Operations."

Partly in regard to weather modification experiments, but from a pure forecasting perspective as well, Glenn has been very interested in extraterrestrial influences on weather and climate.He has contributed here in the area of nonparametric significance testing through randomization and Monte Carlo techniques. (I can remember Glenn, Thomas Carpenter, and others doing this work for days on end using a Bendix G-15D computer in the old Weather Bureau annex at 24th and M streets.) Periodicities and their interactions have always been a tantalizing subject to him, and, in fact, his latest published paper to date (I'm sure there'll be many more) was with Kirby Hansen in 1990 dealing with "Periodicities in El Nino Occurrences," a subject that I'm sure is of considerable interest to this conference on statistical climatology.

Glenn is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and one of the very few who is also a fellow of the American Statistical Association.

One of Glenn's strong points is his willingness to help others with their statistical problems and data analyses. Many of his papers are coauthored, which testifies to that fact. In this way, knowledge of statistical methods has been passed through the meteorological (and other) communities. I can't begin to name all of the people that he has worked with over the years, but some that come to mind are Harry Wexler, Hans Panofsky (and, of course, their well-known text on statistical meteorology is still heavily used), Joanne and Robert Simpson, Murray Mitchell, Lewis Grant, Paul Mielke, Joseph Bryan, Max Woodbury, Ruben Gabriel, John Tukey, Jerzey Neyman, and Jerry Namias.

In summary, Glenn Brier has had a tremendous influence on the way statistical methods are used in meteorology and climatology and the way weather and climate data are analyzed and interpreted. His contributions have spanned more than a 50-year period. It gives me great pleasure to present him with this IMSC outstanding achievement award."


Murphy, A.H., and F.W. Zwiers, 1993: International Meetings on Statistical Climatology, meeting review. BAMS, 79, 1721-1727.