Top AMS Honors for Two Scripps Researchers


The American Meteorological Society (AMS) bestowed two of its most prestigious awards on two pioneering Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, researchers.

Physical oceanographer Ken Melville, who studies air-sea interactions and surface wave dynamics, received the 2013 Sverdrup Gold Medal Award "for pioneering contributions in advancing knowledge on the role of surface wave breaking and related processes in air-sea interaction."

Physical oceanographer and meteorologist Larry Armi beneath a stratified flow in the eastern Sierra Nevada Physical oceanographer and meteorologist Larry Armi received the Henry Stommel Research Award "for his deeply insightful studies of stratified flow, his pioneering work on boundary mixing and other turbulent mechanisms."

The award also makes Armi a Fellow of the AMS.

The Stommel Award is named for Henry Stommel, who is considered among the leading physical oceanographers of all time. Stommel was primarily affiliated with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he worked until his death in 1992. Scripps physical oceanographer Rob Pinkel received the award in 2012.

A Southern California native, Armi grew up in Palos Verdes, Calif. He received his B.S. from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, an M.S. from the University of Southern California in aerospace engineering, and a Ph.D. in fluid mechanics from U. C. Berkeley. Before joining Scripps in 1981, he spent five years at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where he worked with Henry Stommel. "This means so much to me since Hank Stommel was a dear friend," Armi said.

Physical oceanographer Ken Melville studies surface wave breaking and related processes in air-sea interaction Melville was born in Sydney, Australia. He received B.Sc., B.E., and M.Eng.Sc. degrees from the University of Sydney, and a Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics from Southampton University in the United Kingdom. He moved from Australia to the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps in 1977, and then took a faculty position at MIT in 1980, participating in the MIT-Woods Hole Joint Program until 1991 when he returned to Scripps.

The Sverdrup Medal is named for famed Scripps Director Harald Sverdrup, who led the institution from 1936 to 1948. Sverdrup is best known for his assistance to the Allied war effort during World War II, for his pioneering research into ocean circulation and tidal processes and for co-authoring what is considered the first textbook of oceanography, The Oceans: Their Physics, Chemistry and General Biology. Previous recipients of the Sverdrup Award include Scripps scientists Walter Munk, Jerome Namias, Tim Barnett and most recently, Dean Roemmich in 2009.

"I was delighted to receive this news," said Melville. "It is an honor to join the previous recipients of this award and to be associated with Sverdrup's legacy in some small way. "

The presentations of the awards will take place at the 93rd Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Austin, Texas in January 2013.

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