Walter Orr Roberts

Building HAO, NCAR, and a Foundation for Scientific Innovation in Boulder

Walter Orr Roberts was a renowned scientist, leader, and pioneer in the fields of solar-terrestrial study, astronomy, and climate science. He established and directed the High Altitude Observatory (HAO); founded the Department of Astro-Geophysics at the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU-Boulder); served as the first director of the National Center for Atmopheric Research (NCAR); the first president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), and led the Program on Food, Climate, and the World’s Future at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. He was a tireless advocate for an active response to climate change, international scientific collaboration, and science education. Beyond these individual accomplishments, he built a scientific community in Boulder, creating long-lasting partnerships, including those between NCAR, HAO, and CU-Boulder that continue to grow and thrive today.

This exhibit brings together material from the NCAR Archives and the Special Collections, Archives, and Preservation at the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries to tell the story of Walter Orr Roberts and his significant impact on the institutions he was involved with, and his lasting legacy in the scientific enterprise.