BORN: NOVEMBER 7, 1942, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. DIED: APRIL 26, 2018 Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA.
Dr. Albert Rango was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended college at Pennsylvania State University (B. S. 1965 Meteorology, M. S. 1966 Meteorology) and Colorado State University (Ph. D. 1969 Watershed Management). He met his wife Josie while a student at Penn State. Dr. Rango held positions with Pennsylvania State University-Meteorology Department (1969-1972); with the Hydrological Sciences Branch-National Aeronautics and Space Administration-Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD (1972-1983); and with the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, MD (1983-2001) and later in Las Cruces, NM (2001-2018).
As an Assistant Professor of Meteorology at Penn State, Dr. Rango developed and taught courses in Hydrometeorology and Snow Hydrology. His interest in snow hydrology soon led him to take a research position with the Hydrological Sciences Branch, NASA-GSFC related to the then rapidly expanding applications of satellite remote sensing in hydrology.
With NASA-GSFC, Dr. Rango capitalized on use of newly-available Landsat visible-spectrum, remote sensing data to map areal extent of flood waters and snow cover. In one of his numerous productive collaborations during his career, he then adapted the SRM Snowmelt Runoff Model developed by Jaroslav Martinec (with the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research at the time) to accommodate periodic satellite snow cover data to improve predictions of seasonal snowmelt runoff. The cooperation with J. Martinec lasted 41 years. In particular, the SRM was adapted to evaluate the effect of climate change on snow cover and runoff (see publications 19 and 20 below). After rising to Branch Chief of Hydrological Sciences, with NASA-GSFC, Dr. Rango moved to the research leader position with the USDA, ARS, Hydrology Lab in Beltsville where he continued his satellite hydrology research.
At USDA-ARS, Dr. Rango added a new remote-sensing component to agency research. He continued improving the SRM model especially the use of watershed snow-cover depletion curves from remote sensing data (see SRM model reference material) and adapting the model to help predict effects of climate change on snowmelt runoff. Dr. Rango also collaborated with other colleagues to include use of microwave remote sensing data, use of energy budgets to compute melt, and use of scanning electron microscopy to study forms of snow and ice crystals during metamorphosis. In addition, he embarked on a multi-year project to co-author a snow hydrology text book.
After his move to USDA, ARS in Las Cruces, his research focus broadened considerably to include use of remote and ground-based sensing to evaluate rangeland ecosystems including the use of drones and methods to detect impacts of climate change, but he continued to lead research on snowmelt runoff and hydrology. Dr. Rango adapted the SRM model for flow prediction using remotely sensed data for the entire Rio Grande basin in addition to becoming co-principal investigator on the Jornada Long Term Ecological Research Project funded by the US National Science Foundation. Beginning in 2014 he became the first Director of the newly created USDA Southwest Climate Hub to promote information exchange about climate change and adaptation strategies in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and the US Affiliated Pacific Islands. Dr. Rango also enjoyed mentoring many post-doctoral students with interests in remote sensing and snow hydrology during his later career. One of his strengths was his ability to focus on his research while in these management positions at both NASA and USDA/ARS.
No doubt Dr. Rango’s greatest achievements were related to development of visual and digital methods for extracting snow covered area from a variety of satellite sensors. Dr. Rango vigorously promoted use of remotely-sensed data in hydrology both nationally and internationally via publications (over 300 total) and active service to many organizations. At various stages in his career he was active in the American Geophysical Union, American Water Resources Association, Western Snow Conference, American Society for Testing and Materials, American Meteorological Society, American Society of Civil Engineers, International Association of Hydrological Sciences, International Commission on Snow and Ice, World Meteorological Organization, and International Commission on Remote Sensing. A measure of his success is that the SRM model using remotely-sensed snow cover data was successfully applied to over 125 basins in 20 countries world-wide.
In recognition of his research, Dr. Rango received several major awards during his career. While with NASA-GSFC he received the Exceptional Service Award in 1974 and with USDA-ARS he was named Senior Scientist of the Year in 1999. In 2005 Dr. Rango received the prestigious Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Service from the White House.
Al Rango was an avid golfer and played golf whenever he could. He also loved blues music, malted beverages, Hawaiian shirts, and many sports. A devoted father, he was named Coach of the Year by the Maryland State Youth Soccer Association in 1987 for being a long-time coach of his daughter Jess’s soccer team (The Thunderbolts) which toured Europe three times.
- Al Rango Jamboree, Jornada Experimental Range. Booklet prepared by family members, USDA, ARS personnel and others for the celebration of the career and life of Dr. Rango. The Jamboree was held at the Jornada Experimental Range on June 18, 2018 near Las Cruces, NM, USA.
- The SRM Model (macaulay.webarchive.hutton.ac.uk/hydal/private/demonstrator_v2.0/models/srm.html)
(Prepared by D. DeWalle, J. Rango, J. Martinec, V. Salomonson, T. Schmugge, B. Bestelmeyer, K. Havstad, and T. Engman. June 3, 2019)
1. Schmugge, T.J., Kustas, W.P., Ritchie, J.C., Jackson, T.J., and Rango, A. Remote sensing in hydrology. Advances in Water Resources. 25:1367-1385. 2002.
2. Rango, A. and Martinec, J. Revisiting the degree day method for snowmelt computations. Water Resources Bulletin. 31(4):657-669. 1995.
3. Kustas, W.P., Rango, A. and Uijlenhoet, R. A simple energy budget algorithm for the snowmelt runoff model. Water Resources Research. 30(5):1515-1527. 1994.
4. Martinec, J. and Rango, A. Parameter values for snowmelt runoff modeling. Journal of Hydrology. 84:197-219. 1986.
5. Martinec, J. and Rango, A. Merits of statistical criteria for the performance of hydrological models. Water Resources Bulletin. 25:421-432. 1989.
6. Brubaker, K., Rango, A. and Kustas, W. Incorporating radiation inputs into the Snowmelt Runoff Model. Hydrological Processes. 10(10):1329-1343. 1996.
7. Rango, A. and Martinec, J. Application of a snowmelt-runoff model using Landsat data. Nordic Hydrology. 10:225-238. 1979.
8. Foster, J., Owe, M. and Rango, A. Snow cover and temperature relationships in North America and Eurasia. Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology. 22(3):460-469. 1983.
9. Rango, A., Chang, A.T.C. and Foster, J.L. The utilization of spaceborne microwave radiometers for monitoring snowpack properties. Nordic Hydrology. 10:25-40. 1979.
10. Martinec, J. and Rango, A. Areal distribution of snow water equivalent evaluated by snow cover monitoring. Water Resources Research. 17(5):1480-1488. 1981.
11. Rango, A. Worldwide testing of the Snowmelt Runoff Model with applications for predicting the effects of climate change. Nordic Hydrology. 23:355-172. 1992.
12. Rango, A. and Salomonson, V.V. Regional flood mapping from space. Water Resources Research. 10(3):473-484. 1974.
13. Rango, A. Spaceborne remote sensing for snow hydrology applications. Hydrological Sciences Journal. 41(4):477-494. 1996.
14. Rango, A., Salomonson, V.V. and Foster, J.L. Seasonal streamflow estimation in the Himalayan region employing meteorological satellite snow cover observations. Water Resources Research. 13(l):109-112. 1977.
15. Wergin, W.P., Rango, A. and Erbe, E.F. Observations of snow crystals using low temperature scanning electron microscopy. Scanning. 17(1):41-49. 1995.
16. Gomez-Landesa, E. and Rango, A. Operational snowmelt runoff forecasting in the Spanish Pyrenees using the snowmelt runoff model. Hydrological Processes. 16:1583-1591. 2002.
17. Vivoni, E. R., Rango A., Anderson, C. , Pierini, N. A., Schreiner-McGraw, A. P., Saripalli, S., Laliberte, A. S. Ecohydrology with aerial vehicles. Ecosphere 5(10):14 p. 2014.
18. DeWalle, D. R. and Rango, A. Principles of Snow Hydrology, Cambridge Univ. Press, 428 p., 2008.
19. Martinec, J., Rango, A., Roberts, R. Snowmelt Runoff Model (SRM) User’s Manual. New Mexico St. University, 2008.
20. Rango, A., Martinec, J., Elias, E., Smith, R. Modelling future snow cover and runoff with climate-adjusted parameters. Proc., Western Snow Conf., Albuquerque, NM, p. 107-116, 2018.