The International (A)TOVS community will be sadly depleted by the untimely death of our good friend and colleague Guy Rochard in early December 2005. Guy was always passionate about his work, in true Breton style, and there were several issues that he pursued for the ITWG with great tenacity.
For example one such issue was ensuring the availability of direct read out data processing software for users of locally received (A)TOVS sounder data from the NOAA satellites. In 1977 Guy set up a team of scientists at the Centre Météorologie Spatiale in Lannion to help develop the use of NOAA data. Many of that original group are still active today. It was natural that Guy became involved with the ITWG group development of the first data processing package, the ITPP in the early 1980's. Then as other members created their own retrieval software, including the ICI and 3I his work in enabling scientists worldwide to use these software was influential in spreading the word about the usefulness of satellite direct readout around the world. In the mid 90's he helped to initiate the successful AAPP software development for the next generation ATOVS instruments. His lab at MétéoFrance in Lannion played a key role in its development and the package was subsequently adopted by EUMETSAT. Recently Guy has been very active in clarifying the plans for the direct readout software from NPP/NPOESS with much discussion between us.
Guy, more than anyone else, took the threat of radio frequency interference (RFI) on our microwave sounding and imaging channels very seriously and spent an incredible amount of effort over the last 15 years to ensure the frequencies needed for science would be protected. He travelled the world to make sure our cause was represented at the diversity of meetings on this topic and there is no doubt the protection of the ATOVS and other meteorological sensors was initiated and put in place by Guy's efforts. He made sure the ITWG were closely involved in this activity and at his invitation last year we hosted a meeting of the Space Frequency Co-ordination Group in Brittany to highlight the issue of protection for passive microwave sounding channels. Without his persistence we may have lost important regions of the microwave spectrum for remote sensing.
From its inception, Guy was a strong supporter of the ITWG, attending all the conferences except one. As a measure of his respect and popularity within the TOVS community he was elected Co-chair of the ITWG for the period from 1998 to 2003 and along with Co-chair John LeMarshall arranged the 10th to 12th International TOVS Study Conferences in Boulder, Colorado, USA, Budapest, Hungary and Lorne, Victoria, Australia. It was during this period and often through Guy's international activities that our community grew significantly. Guy also provided the initial impetus to hold a TOVS conference in China that recently came to pass with our successful ITSC-14 conference in Beijing, a city that he loved.
Guy truly believed in the international cooperation and opportunities for collaboration that the satellite remote sensing field provides for. He set up several successful collaborations with the Chinese Meteorological Agency and we were told by the locals that he knew Beijing better than they did!. We know he was very happy to see his last TOVS conference in China. Guy also fostered student and scientist exchanges with eastern Europe, Africa and the Americas. His sudden death is all the more poignant as it is only a few days ago that he was helping us update the ITWG email list with suggestions for new members of the club from several continents. With a passion and a kindness, Guy helped to build the diversity of our international remote sensing community.
Life won't be the same without Guy ringing up from Britanny, comparing the current weather and then making sure one issue or other is fully clear, or taking the floor at a TOVS conference and warning us all of the dangers of radio frequency interference to our microwave sensors and urging us all to lobby our local governments. We owe it to Guy to continue his legacy of frequency protection for meteorological remote sensing channels and all the other issues which he pushed so fervently at the TOVS conferences. Guy may you rest in peace. We will miss you.
Roger Saunders and Tom Achtor
6 December 2005