Michael A. Fosberg, 63, a well-known former USDA Forest Service scientist, born on 11 January 1938, died 2 February 2001 in Onancock, Virginia, USA. A graduate in Atmospheric Sciences and Oceanography of Oregon State University, Mike Fosberg joined the USDA Forest Service in Riverside (California) and Fort Collins (Colorado), in 1962, and served as a Project Leader between 1987 and 1987. Between 1987 and 1995 Mike worked as a staff specialist for Forest Fire and Atmospheric Sciences Research at the USDA Forest Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C. After his retirement from the Forest Service in 1966 Mike Fosberg accepted the offer of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) to serve as Executive Director for the Core Project Biospheric Aspects of the Hydrological Cycle (BAHC), based at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany. After his assignment which ended in 1998, Mike Fosberg continued to work at the Potsdam facility as an independent contractor until 2000.
The international wildland fire community lost a bright scientist who was active in a broad range of international consortia and programmes. Mike Fosberg was an important ambassador of the fire community in international processes such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the FAO Specialists Panels on Climate Change and Global Forest Inventory and the World Meteorological Organization. Mike Fosberg contributed significantly to several national and international programmes of the United States in the field of fire, e.g. the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (National Advisory Group on Fire Danger Rating), the President’s Climate Change Mitigation Group (Rio Earth Summit), the Interagency Analysis Team to develop the international Open Skies Treaty for monitoring of the environment.
The involvement of Mike Fosberg in the UN fire focus included his membership in the ECE/FAO/ILO Team of Specialists on Forest Fire in which he represented the U.S.A. between 1990 and 2000. Within the frame of the International Boreal Forest Research Organization (IBFRA) Mike Fosberg was an active member of the Fire Working Group and supported the cooperation between North American and Russian fire scientists, especially through the Stand Replacement Fire Working Group which was initiated at an Association meeting in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, May 1992 (see IFFN No. 7, August 1992, pp. 6-8 and 32, with a photograph showing the signatory parties including Mike Fosberg).
Mike Fosberg was a true international fire person who loved to work on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. He contributed to major scientific brainstorming events such as the conference Fire in the Tropical Biota (Freiburg 1989), the first global fire analysis at the Dahlem Konferenz Fire in the Environment: The Ecological, Atmospheric, and Climatic Importance of Vegetation Fires (Berlin 1992), and the conference Fire in Ecosystems of Boreal Eurasia (Krasnoyarsk 1993).
His very emotional and positive feelings towards the Eurasian fire community was very well received by his numerous friends and their families in Germany, Eastern Europe and Russia. Mike and his wife Barbara enjoyed living in Werder near Potsdam where they made many good friends. They often visited Freiburg, and Mike was a frequent guest in Russia.
The ECE/FAO/ILO Team of Specialists on Forest Fire has lost a good friend, loyal comrade and constructive collaborator.
Johann G. Goldammer Global Fire Monitoring Center Freiburg / Germany April 2001