AMS to Present Award to Veteran Scripps Oceanographer


Rob Pinkel, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography professor and a leader in the study of small-scale ocean processes, will receive the Henry Stommel Research Award from the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Jan. 25.

The award is granted to researchers in recognition of outstanding contributions to the advancement of the understanding of the dynamics and physics of the ocean. Pinkel, who received his doctorate in oceanography from Scripps in 1974, pioneered the development of specialized instruments for observing ocean internal waves, turbulence, and other physical characteristics. With them, Pinkel has led major studies of ocean dynamics, such as the 1999-2005 Hawaii Ocean Mixing Experiment, which studied tidal generation of large amplitude internal waves around the Hawaiian Islands.

The AMS citation credits Pinkel “for developing outstanding instrumentation, using it widely, and interpreting the results to advance understanding of numerous small-scale processes in the upper ocean.”

“I first met Henry Stommel in 1967, while an undergraduate summer student at Woods Hole (Oceanographic Institution),” said Pinkel. “After these many years, it's an honor to be selected for the award that bears his name.”

Pinkel’s laboratory has developed a variety of sensors that measure internal and surface waves via remote sensing, using Doppler sonars to provide sophisticated information about ocean dynamics.  Most recently, Pinkel’s laboratory is experimenting with optical fibers to measure ocean temperature and using ocean-wave power to propel a vertically profiling instrument package known as the Wirewalker.

Pinkel was born on March 30, 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Michigan in 1968, and a master’s degree in physical oceanography in 1969 at Scripps before receiving his Ph.D. five years later. His advisers at Scripps were Russ Davis and the late Fred Spiess.

The award is named for Henry Stommel, who is considered among the leading physical oceanographers of all time. Stommel was primarily affiliated with Woods Hole, where he worked until his death in 1992.

The presentation takes place at the 92nd Annual Meeting of the Society in New Orleans.

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