Scripps research oceanographer receives Munk Award

Award honors distinguished research in oceanography related to sound and the sea

Peter Worcester, a research oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, has been selected as winner of the Walter Munk Award for Distinguished Research in Oceanography Related to Sound and the Sea.

The award is granted jointly by The Oceanography Society, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy.

Worcester received the Munk Award on February 24, 2006, in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the 13th Ocean Sciences Meeting, a joint meeting of the American Geophysical Union, The Oceanography Society, the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, and the Estuarine Research Federation.

Worcester is being recognized for his "early and continuing contributions to the development of acoustical oceanography and tomographic inverse methods for acoustic measurement of ocean processes, for tireless service aimed at developing a responsible permitting structure for the use of sound in the sea for scientific purposes and for leadership in the U.S. ocean acoustics community."

Worcester is the eighth recipient of the Munk Award. Walter Munk was himself the first recipient of the award in 1993. Munk is considered by many to be one of the world's greatest living oceanographers. He has been affiliated with Scripps since 1940, and is a professor of geophysics and holds a Secretary of the Navy/Chief of Naval Operations Oceanography Chair at the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps Institution.

Recipients are selected for "significant original contributions to the understanding of physical ocean processes related to sound in the sea; significant original contributions to the application of acoustic methods to that understanding; and outstanding service that fosters research in ocean science and instrumentation contributing to the above."

A native of Australia, Worcester received his Ph.D. in oceanography from Scripps in 1977 and became a Scripps researcher in 1978. His research focuses on the application of acoustic remote-sensing techniques to the study of ocean structure and circulation. He has led numerous experimental programs to develop and use tomography.

Worcester is currently leading the acoustic tomography component of the National Science Foundation's Hawaiian Ocean Mixing Experiment, and is co-principal for ONR's multi-year North Pacific Acoustic Laboratory (NPAL) program.

Other past recipients of the Munk Award include Walter Munk (1993), Scripps Institution of Oceanography; David M. Farmer (1994), Institute of Ocean Sciences, Canada; Leonid M. Brekhovskikh (1996), Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Russia; Stephen A. Thorpe (1997), Southampton Oceanography Centre, UK; Robert Pinkel (1999), Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Robert C. Spindel (2001), Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington; and H. Thomas Rossby (2003), Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island.


The Office of Naval Research and the Oceanographer of the Navy are scientific agencies within the Department of Defense. The Oceanography Society was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1988 to disseminate knowledge of oceanography and its application through research and education, to promote communication among oceanographers and to provide a constituency for consensus-building across all the disciplines of the field.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at the University of California, San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global science research and graduate training in the world. The National Research Council has ranked Scripps first in faculty quality among oceanography programs nationwide. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical, and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today in 65 countries. The institution has a staff of about 1,300, and annual expenditures of approximately $140 million from federal, state, and private sources. Scripps operates one of the largest U.S. academic fleets with four oceanographic research ships and one research platform for worldwide exploration.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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