County honors Scripps oceanographer Walter Munk

Tuesday May 10

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was proclaimed “Walter Munk Day” by the County Board of Supervisors honoring the renowned La Jolla Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist for his distinguished career and voluminous body of work.

The proclamation was presented to Munk by Supervisor Pam Slater-Price.

Born in Vienna, Austria, Munk left a career in banking in New York to pursue oceanography. A summer job at Scripps Institution of Oeanography earned him an acceptance as a doctoral student. He received his Ph.D. in oceanography in 1947.

Munk’s studies of tides and ocean swells lead to his role in developing the Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate Project, a new method for tracking long-term changes in climate associated with global warming.

During World War II, Munk’s knowledge in wave prediction  was a key resource in assisting the Navy with amphibious landings in Northwest Africa, Normandy and the Pacific.

Munk investigated polar movement and variations in the Earth’s rotation which helped him explain the phenomenon of tidal locking, why one side of the moon always faces the Earth.

Munk has been awarded numerous scientific awards for achievement including: the 2010 Crafoord Prize in Geosciences for his pioneering and fundamental contributions to the study of ocean circulation, tides and waves and their role in the Earth’s dynamics; the Alexander Agassiz Gold Medal of the Naitonal Academy of Sciencs in 1977; the National Medal of Science in 1983; the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences in 1999 and the inaugural Prince Albert I Medal from the International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans in 2001.

The county's proclamation commended Munk for “more than 70 years of pioneering and fundamental contributions to our understanding of Earth and its oceans.”

   
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