Around the Pier: Gold Standard


Dean Roemmich, the leading force behind a revolutionary array of ocean-monitoring sensors called Argo, has won the 2007 Sverdrup Gold Medal awarded by the American Meteorological Society.

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 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, a physical oceanographer 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 such 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.  Roemmich will receive the award at the AMS 88th Annual Meeting in New Orleans on January 23, 2008. For more information see



— Robert Monroe


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