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Redfield Ratio

Redfield Ratio

August 26, 2017

Alfred Redfield, shown in his lab in 1955, joined the WHOI staff as senior biologist in 1931. He went on to serve as Associate Director from 1942 to 1956. Redfield’s broad marine research interests ranged from plankton populations to tides, though he’s most known for a discovery made in 1934, when he described the atomic ratio between nutrients in plankton and their relative proportions in the open ocean, later named the Redfield Ratio. A plaque near the Redfield Laboratory entrance states his philosophy: “Life in the sea cannot be understood without understanding the sea itself.” (Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Archives)

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