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, concentrating 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 Department of Energy, 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.
Over the years AER grew by accretion – picking up top-notch scientists who could help with currently-funded projects before moving on to establishing their own research programs. Atmospheric chemistry led to radiative transfer and remote sensing, planetary atmospheres, numerical weather prediction, and ultimately, oceanography and air quality. Much of this early work formed the basis of AER's unique capabilities in assimilation of satellite data for numerical weather prediction models, fundamental radiative transfer and remote sensing algorithms, and a research-to-operations culture.
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. Beginning with the NPOESS program in 1996 and continuing through GOES-R (2009) and EWS (2021), AER led cutting-edge development of operational satellite algorithms supporting DoD and civilian customers. The acquisition of Radex (2004) added space weather research and weather impact decision aids to the AER portfolio.
Acquired by Verisk Analytics in 2008, Verisk Atmospheric and Environmental Research is one of the largest and most prestigious commercial weather and climate scientific research firms in the world. AER continues to conduct basic and applied research for governments and industry while also supporting other Verisk business units in the application of weather and climate research to the insurance and risk management sectors.