The Walter Munk Award for Distinguished Research in Oceanography Related to Sound and the Sea will be presented to Dr. Thomas Rossby on June 4, 2003, at The Oceanography Society - Oceanology International Americas Ocean Conference in New Orleans. Dr. Rossby is being recognized for "creative and pioneering developments of acoustically tracked floats, inverted echo sounders and other ocean acoustic methodologies, their innovative application to measure and understand physical oceanographic processes, and for his unselfish and dedicated efforts to freely share those developments with the international oceanographic community."
Since 1975, Dr. Rossby has been a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island. His current research includes the dynamics and kinematics of ocean currents with special interest in the Gulf Stream and the circulation of the North Atlantic. His interests also include development of ocean instrumentation, and he has contributed several novel technology designs and applications. Dr. Rossby led development of both the SOFAR and RAFOS floats, using an entirely new approach to allow extended measurement over oceanographically interesting time scales in the deep ocean. The RAFOS floats provided the first Lagrangian measurements of deep ocean currents, giving a picture of circulation in the North Atlantic that had been completely inaccessible to moored current meters or remote sensing. He has found many innovative ways to use sound to explore the ocean, including inverting the ambient ocean sound field to derive wind speed (others now use this method to study precipitation, ice fracturing and other ocean sounds); the inverted echo sounder; the free-fall shear-profiler YVETTE; the PEGASUS acoustically tracked velocity profiler; a monopole-driven underwater sound source; and equipping vessels with an ADCP system to obtain regular velocity sections.
Dr. Rossby will receive a silver medal, commemorative lapel pin, and a certificate bearing the signatures of the Secretary of the U.S. Navy and the President of The Oceanography Society. He is the 7th recipient of the Munk award since it was first given to Walter Munk in 1993.
The Walter Munk Award is granted jointly by The Oceanography Society, the Office of Naval Research, and the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy. Recipients are selected based on their 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.
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 non-profit 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.