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WHOI Scientist to Receive American Meteorological Society Award

January 7, 2005

A physical oceanographer known for his theories of wind driven ocean circulation and the fluid dynamics of the oceans will receive the 2005 Sverdrup Gold Medal from the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the nation’s leading professional society for scientists in the atmospheric and related sciences, in ceremonies January 12 at the AMS annual meeting in San Diego.

Joseph Pedlosky, a senior scientist in the Physical Oceanography Department and Henry L. and Grace Doherty Oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), earned the medal “for developing geophysical fluid dynamics, including the theories of baroclinic instability and of ocean circulation driven by wind stress and buoyancy fluxes.”

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, and has been awarded through the years to several other WHOI staff, most recently to Robert Weller in 2003.

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.

Pedlosky has researched and taught at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution since 1979. He attended the summer Geophysical Fluid Dynamics programs at WHOI in 1960 and 1962, and spent a year as a Fulbright Fellow at the International Institute of Meteorology in Stockholm before joining the MIT faculty in mathematics in 1963. In 1968 he was appointed an associate professor of meteorology at the University of Chicago, and in 1972 was promoted to Professor of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, a position he held until 1979 when he joined the WHOI staff.

His work on the general circulation of the ocean, fluid dynamics and waves has earned numerous honors and awards, including a second Fulbright Fellowship in 1994 and 1995. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the AMS. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1985, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the European Academy of Sciences. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical engineering and a Ph.D. degree in meteorology, Pedlosky has authored or co-authored more than 120 peer-reviewed publications and is the author of three books.

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 and outreach programs across the country. Additional information on the AMS, the Annual Meeting, and other award winners is available on the Internet at

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (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 operates the US National Deep Submergence Facility that includes the deep-diving submersible Alvin, a fleet of global ranging ships and smaller coastal vessels, and a variety of other tethered and autonomous underwater vehicles. WHOI is organized into five departments, interdisciplinary institutes and a marine policy center, and conducts a joint graduate education program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.