San Diego — In an effort led by San Diego City Councilmember Barbara Bry, the City of San Diego recognized science icon Walter Munk on the eve of his 100th birthday by officially naming the La Jolla Shores boardwalk in his honor and proclaiming October 19, 2017 to be “Walter Munk Day.” Three honorary “Walter Munk Way” street signs were installed along the length of the boardwalk (La Vereda Street). Officials from the City of San Diego, San Diego County, the State of California, and the University of California San Diego participated in a ceremony unveiling the honorary “Walter Munk Way” street signs at Kellogg Park in La Jolla Shores. (View photo gallery.)
Walter Munk joined Scripps Institution of Oceanography as a young doctoral student in 1939 in what would start nearly eight decades of scientific discovery, daring science, and transformation of how the world understands the ocean. Scripps Oceanography became part of the University of California San Diego in 1960, making Munk the oldest living UC San Diego alumnus.
Often called the “Einstein of the Oceans,” Munk is known for inventing the science of wave forecasting along with Scripps Director Harald Sverdrup, which helped Allied troops plan amphibious invasions during World War II. Munk also pioneered tide prediction and many aspects of ocean acoustics, ocean circulation, and deep-sea tides. In recent years, Munk has met with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and Pope Francis as a scientific advisor speaking on the urgency to act on climate change. Known for his never-ending curiosity, Munk still conducts research today.
Munk’s commitment to seafaring science is still engrained in Scripps Oceanography today. Scripps scientists have research projects occurring in every ocean and on every continent to further understand and protect our planet, and to find solutions to the world’s most complex environmental issues.
Munk reflected on the honor bestowed upon him by saying, “I am so very pleased because it connects Scripps’ work to the community that has been my home since 1939.”
In his remarks, Munk called upon the world to work together to combat climate change and sea-level rise, so that the La Jolla Shores boardwalk will be around in 100 years.
Elected officials and academic leaders shared their thoughts about Walter Munk and his lifetime of remarkable scientific contributions.
“Walter Munk is a beloved local icon with deep roots in the San Diego community,” said Councilmember Barbara Bry. “He is a pioneer of geophysical and oceanographic science whose research ranges from helping to predict the wave conditions for the Allied invasion of Normandy to assessing the impact of climate change on the poorest three billion people on earth. The City of San Diego is proud to recognize Walter Munk by naming the La Jolla Shores boardwalk in his honor.”
“Walter Munk is a brilliant and world-renowned oceanographer but to San Diegans, he is also a warm, compassionate man who is committed to his community, passionate about equal rights and dedicated to exposing our children to the wonder of science. Naming a street after him in our city is a fitting tribute,” said Senator Toni Atkins.
“The entire San Diego region has cause to celebrate the legacy of Walter Munk,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “Dr. Munk helped cement San Diego’s reputation as a scientific research hub, and his pioneering work in understanding oceans is more important today than ever as we seek solutions to our changing climate.”
“Early and often, the scientific prowess of Walter Munk made for a better world and helped shine a spotlight on the amazing oceanography and geophysics emanating from once sleepy San Diego,” said County Supervisor Ron Roberts. “We are privileged to have had him as a member of our community for so many decades, and to be here today celebrating this global treasure on his 100th birthday.”
"Walter Munk has changed our world and our campus for the better, and helped put UC San Diego on the map as the incredible university that it is today,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “It is a wonderful addition to Walter Munk’s legacy to have the City of San Diego dedicate this boardwalk in his honor.”
“The San Diego scientific community and Scripps Institution of Oceanography are forever grateful for the many contributions of Walter Munk,” said Margaret Leinen, UC San Diego vice chancellor for marine sciences and director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “To see Walter receive these honors from the City of San Diego, County of San Diego, State of California and federal representatives is a testament to how widely his scientific achievements – which have transformed our understanding of the oceans – are appreciated by those of us who have had the pleasure of living with him in our community."
Additionally, U.S. Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris (D-CA) each provided Certificates of Commendation recognizing Walter Munk’s lifetime of scientific achievements, and Representative Scott Peters (CA-52) entered a statement in the Congressional Record honoring Walter Munk.
More information on Walter Munk and additional centennial celebration events can be found at http://munk100.ucsd.edu.
Related Image Gallery: Walter Munk Way Dedication Ceremony
Undergraduate student examines red blood cell activity in teleost fish