Architect of Argo Observation Program Takes American Meteorological Society's Top Honor


Dean Roemmich, a physical oceanographer at Scripps Oceanography and the leading force behind a revolutionary array of ocean-monitoring sensors called Argo, will receive the Sverdrup Gold Medal from the American Meteorological Society during the society's 88th annual meeting in New Orleans on Jan. 23.

The organization cited Roemmich's "contributions to the measurement and understanding of the ocean's role in climate, and for leading the development and implementation of the Argo array."

The network of floats, which reached full observational capacity in fall 2007, is creating an unprecedented profile of the world's oceans. The floats make measurements of the ocean's "vital signs" - temperature, salinity and velocity - with a level of detail never before achieved. Data from the Argo program, which its leaders hope will last several decades, could transform the way scientists understand the oceans and its effects on climate.

"Not only am I personally thrilled to be selected for the Sverdrup Gold Medal, this award recognizes and encourages the strongly collaborative effort and broad international cooperation of the Argo float program," said Roemmich, who joined Scripps in 1981.

The Argo network recently reached full observational capacity in October after eight years of deployments by research vessels, commercial ships and aircraft. More than two dozen countries have been part of the worldwide effort in a variety of capacities. The 3,000 operational floats in the Argo array provide coverage of the oceans at every 3 degrees latitude and longitude, on average.

"This is an award very richly deserved," said Howard Freeland, the co-chair of the international Argo Steering Team with Roemmich. "Nothing of what we achieved would have been possible without the leadership shown by Dean right from the moment he proposed this idea. A large team has brought the Argo array into existence, but overwhelmingly we owe a lot to Dean Roemmich."

The Sverdrup Gold Medal, named for former Scripps Director Harald Ulrik Sverdrup, a pioneer in the field of oceanography, is one of the Society's highest honors. The award is given to researchers who make outstanding contributions to the scientific knowledge of interactions between the oceans and the atmosphere.

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