Isn't He Swell?


Legendary Scripps alumnus and professor emeritus of geophysics Walter Munk was recently honored by the Groundswell Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the global surf riding community, for his research before and during World War II into the power of storms and the origins of waves.

To recognize his contributions to the surf community, the society presented Munk with a replica of a pre-Incan watercraft. Made in Huanchaco, Peru, it is believed that the small, reed “surfboard” was used for fishing and possibly riding waves.

“We wanted to give Dr. Munk a tangible symbol of maritime culture from a time when man could only be curious about the power of the waves,” said society co-founder Glenn Hening. “Our curiosity knew no bounds for generations, until one guy came along and tried to figure it all out. That’s why we thought, as surfers, to honor Dr. Munk.”

“I have been fortunate in receiving the recognitions that are traditional in a scientific career:  the National Medal of Science, election to the National Academy and the Royal Society, etc.,” said Munk. “But none gave me as much unexpected pleasure as this recognition by the Groundswell Society. I was utterly delighted.”

The honor took place at the 6th Annual Surfing Arts, Science, and Issues Conference held at Scripps in February. The program included a screening of “Waves Across the Pacific,” the 1963 documentary film that showcases Munk’s research on Antarctic storms and “Southern Hemi” groundswells.

The goal of The Groundswell Society is to establish a values-based influence on modern surfing, supporting education, research, and community involvement in the arts, sciences, and issues of the world of riding waves. The society promotes critical thinking, dialogue, and action amongst surfers wanting to leave a lasting positive surfing legacy for generations to come.

- Shannon Casey

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