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In Memoriam: Bruce Alfred Warren

Bruce Alfred Warren

Media Relations Office

media@whoi.edu

September 2, 2010

(508) 289-3340

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death of Scientist Emeritus Bruce Warren on September 2. He was 73.

Born in Waltham, Mass, he was the son of the late Bertram and Elna (Peterson) Warren. Dr. Warren graduated from Amherst College and received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Bruce began his career at WHOI in 1962 as a Research Assistant in the Physical Oceanography Department.  In 1963 he was promoted to Assistant Scientist.  In 1967 he was promoted to Associate Scientist and tenured in 1972.  In 1978 he was promoted to Senior Scientist and retired in 2003 as a Scientist Emeritus.

Bruce enjoyed going to sea, and he traveled around the world to study its deep circulation. When he received the American Geophysical Union’s Maurice Ewing Medal in 2004, the citation read, “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.”

When Bruce began doing field work in the 1950’s the deep Indian and Pacific Oceans had hardly been explored “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” he said.

The AGU citation writer, Kevin Speer of Florida State University (who worked with Bruce as a graduate student), 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.”   “These are all subjects of key importance to our basic knowledge of the ocean and its role in climate.”

Bruce was also the winner of the 2010 prestigious Sverdrup Gold Medal, awarded by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The AMS cited Warren “for advancing our understanding of the general circulation of the ocean through observations and dynamical interpretation.” Warren and his co-workers over the years are considered primarily responsible for discovering the existence of deep, swift currents near the boundaries of the Indian and Pacific oceans.

When he was not concentrating on oceanography, Bruce enjoyed the plant world, keeping a garden in one of the WHOI plots and tracking some 170 varieties of wildflowers he identified while walking along the Shining Sea bike path adjacent to the Institution.   Bruce was also an epicure – fond of a well-prepared meal and good company, a student of history, had great appetite for literature, and was a music and art enthusiast. 

He is survived by a brother, Robert Warren of Novato, California. A scattering of his ashes over the ocean which he loved is planned for a later date.

Gately Funeral Home of Provincetown, MA, is in charge of arrangements.

Originally published: September 2, 2010