Employee Portrait Gallery—Bruce Warren

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At 6 feet 5 inches, Bruce Warren barely fit in this Atlantis II lab during a 1964 cruise in the North Atlantic. (WHOI Archives Photo)

 

Bruce Warren first heard about the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the spring of 1955 when Arnold Arons, his freshman physics professor at Amherst College, arranged a summer job for him here with Hank Stommel. “The Cape seemed like an agreeable place to spend a summer,” Bruce says. When Hank ran out of things for Bruce to do that season, he sent him to sea on Atlantis to do bathythermograph work for Fritz Fuglister.

Bruce spent every college and graduate school summer at WHOI, and he was also based in Woods Hole for his MIT Ph.D. thesis work on Gulf Stream meanders with Fritz Fuglister and Bill von Arx. Bruce found that he liked going to sea, and he has traveled around the world ocean to study its deep circulation. When he received the American Geophysical Union’s Maurice Ewing Medal in 2004, the citation said, “Bruce’s career has truly been a voyage of discovery. He has . . . found numerous major deep currents, previously unknown or at best sketchily observed in nearly all the world ocean’s major basins. The Indian Ocean has been a favorite: currents in the Madagascar and Mascarene Basins, the Southwest and Central Indian Ridges, and the 90E Ridge. In the Pacific, he revealed flow on the East Pacific Rise and above the Aleutian Trench and Rise.”

He was inspired, Bruce says, by theories originated by Stommel and Arons about deep ocean circulation—and points out that the deep Indian and Pacific Oceans were little explored when he began his fieldwork in the 1960s. “I was also lucky, though unaware of it, to be entering oceanography just when the Cold War was expanding financial support for scientific research,” including “construction of large research vessels that could leave their home waters and work the world ocean.” When asked about the ships he’d sailed on, Bruce quickly came up with a list of nearly 20 ranging from WHOI’s Atlantis, Crawford (his favorite), Chain, Atlantis II, Oceanus, and Knorr to other institutions’ Eltanin, Charles Darwin, and Moana Wave.

The AGU citation writer, Kevin Speer of Florida State University, concluded by saying the Maurice Ewing Medal “gives us the opportunity to show the depth of Bruce Warren’s contribution to ocean science and to our community, and the high value of impeccable scholarship.”

When he’s not concentrating on oceanography, Bruce enjoys the plant world, keeping a garden in one of the WHOI plots at the Warehouse entrance to the Quissett Campus and tracking the some 170 varieties of wildflowers he has identified while walking along the Shining Sea bike path.

 

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