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WHOI Scientist Honored by American Meteorological Society

Rober Weller Robert Weller (Dave Gray, WHOI)

February 26, 2003

Robert A. Weller of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has been honored by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) for his contributions to understanding the interactions between the oceans and atmosphere.

Weller, a senior scientist in the Department of Physical Oceanography and Director of the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research (CICOR) at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), received the AMS’s 2003 Sverdrup Gold Medal February 12 during the Society’s 83rd annual meeting in Long Beach, California.

The Sverdrup Gold Medal, one of the society’s highest honors, is given periodically to researchers who make outstanding contributions to the scientific knowledge of interactions between the oceans and the atmosphere. The medal was first presented in 1964 to WHOI scientist Henry Stommel. Robert Weller was honored “for scientific leadership and sustained excellence in the development and use of innovative measurement techniques in the air-sea boundary layer.”

The award is named for Norwegian scientist and explorer Harald Ulrik Sverdrup, recognized as the founder of the modern school of physical oceanography. Sverdrup and colleagues Martin Johnson and Richard Fleming wrote the first comprehensive text in oceanography, The Oceans: Their Physics, Chemistry and General Biology. The oceanographic term Sverdrup, or “a unit of volume transport equal to one million cubic meters per second,” is named for him. Sverdup died in 1957 at age 69.

Robert Weller received a B.A. degree in engineering and applied physics from Harvard University in 1972 and a Ph.D. in physical oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, in 1978. He joined the WHOI staff in 1979 as a postdoctoral scholar, was named a postdoctoral investigator in 1980, and was appointed an assistant scientist in 1980. He was promoted to Associate Scientist in 1984 and to Senior Scientist in 1988. He held a Secretary of the Navy Chair in Oceanography from 1998 to 2002, and has held the Institution’s Henry Bryant Bigelow Chair for Excellence in Oceanography since 1993.

His research interests include upper ocean responses to atmospheric forcing, the role of surface waves and related processes in upper ocean dynamics, and coupling between the upper ocean and the ocean interior. . He is the author or co-author of more than 75 scientific publications and has participated in dozens of research cruises around the world, including studies of El Nino in the western equatorial Pacific, monsoons in the Arabian Sea, and upwelling off the coast of South America.

WHOI is a private, independent marine research and engineering, and higher education organization located in Falmouth, MA. Its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, the Institution is organized into five scientific departments, interdisciplinary research institutes and a marine policy center, and conducts a joint graduate education program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The AMS, founded in 1919, promotes the development and dissemination of information on atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrologic sciences. The Society publishes nine well-respected scientific journals, sponsors scientific conferences, and supports public education programs across the country.