History

Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) has a long and proud history built around the relentless pursuit of scientific knowledge to minimize environmental risk and discover more about our planet and its systems.  The company was founded in 1977 by the husband-and-wife team of Cecilia and Dr. Nien Dak Sze, with a singular focus: to become a world-class research and development organization in atmospheric and environmental research that offers commercial contract services to rival those of academic research labs. 

Capitalizing on Dr. Sze’s doctoral thesis on the photochemistry of the atmosphere of Venus, AER received its first research grant in 1977 to work on an analogous photochemical model for our own planet, focusing on the stratospheric ozone depletion problem.  Dr. Sze’s discoveries ultimately led to the global shift away from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other harmful pollutants and toward prevention of further depletion of the ozone layer.

AER quickly established a reputation for research integrity and attracted top-flight scientists.  Throughout the 1980s, the company both broadened the scope of its research initiatives and expanded into more complex applied research programs.  Between 1977 and 1993, AER was awarded research contracts by many of the leading government agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Research Lab, the Air Force Geophysics Lab, NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Energy.  The applied research conducted during this time formed the basis for many of the technologies AER uses today. 

Soon after joining the company in 1979, Executive Vice President Ron Isaacs formed the Remote Sensing group, which extended AER’s capabilities from global numerical modeling to complementary data observation via satellite remote sensing techniques.  Beginning with small remote sensing contracts and leveraging its global numerical modeling expertise, the company secured a key contract with the U.S. Air Force in 1983.  The work on this contract formed the basis of AER's unique capabilities in assimilation of satellite data for numerical weather prediction models.

AER’s demonstrated expertise was recognized in 1993, when the American Meteorological Society (AMS) presented the company with an award for its “commitment to excellence, service to the public and notable contributions to atmospheric sciences.”

These accomplishments laid the groundwork for AER’s next phase – to successfully transform subsidized applied research knowledge into end-user technology used by both government and industry.  Today, AER is one of the largest and most prestigious commercial weather and climate scientific research firms in the world.

Corporate Timeline

  • 1977 – AER founded in Cambridge, MA
  • 1979 – Ron Isaacs joins AER; Remote Sensing group is formed
  • 1980 – AER signs first Office of Naval Research contract
  • 1984 – AER provides first Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) model
  • 1993 – AER receives American Meteorological Society (AMS) award
  • 1994 – AER completes cloud depiction and forecasting project (CDFS-II) for U.S. Air Force
  • 1994 – AER cloud algorithms appear on cover of AMS Conference of Satellite Meteorology publication
  • 1996 – Development of four sensors for NPOESS satellites begins
  • 1999 – Cecilia Sze assumes role of President and CEO
  • 2000 – AER signs Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with U.S. Air Force Weather Agency
  • 2000 – AER awarded ISO 9001 certification
  • 2001 – AER moves headquarters to Lexington, MA, near Air Force Research Lab
  • 2003 – AER awarded patent for OSS algorithm
  • 2003 – AER introduces first commercial forecast products
  • 2004– AER acquires Radex and expands space weather and weather impact decision aids
  • 2005– AER begins work with Harris Corp. on GOES-R satellite program
  • 2008– AER becomes part of Verisk Analytics
  • 2009– AER begins work with CSC on transition of NOAA models to high-performance computing system