Public Release: 

Carl Wunsch selected as 2015 Walter Munk Award recipient

Presented in recognition of distinguished research in oceanography related to sound and the sea

The Oceanography Society


IMAGE: Carl Wunsch is the 2015 recipient the Walter Munk Award for Distinguished Research. view more

Credit: Courtesy of Carl Wunsch

Dr. Carl Wunsch has been selected as the 2015 recipient the Walter Munk Award for Distinguished Research in oceanography related to sound and the sea. Since 1993, The Oceanography Society has presented this award to recognize:

  • Significant original contributions to the understanding of physical ocean processes related to sound in the sea
  • Significant original contributions to the application of acoustic methods to that understanding
  • Outstanding service that fosters research in ocean science and instrumentation contributing to the above

Wunsch is the Cecil and Ida Green professor of physical oceanography, Emeritus, in the department of Earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as visiting professor of physical oceanography and climate, department of Earth and planetary sciences, Harvard University.

The citation for him reads as follows:

Wunsch is honored as one of the fathers of ocean acoustic tomography and as a principal contributor to our understanding of the physical processes that affect the propagation of sound in the sea. He adapted the machinery of inverse methods and ocean state estimation to use acoustic data to infer the ocean sound-speed (and therefore temperature) field and to interpret a wide variety of other oceanographic data. He applied inverse methods to the data obtained in pioneering tomographic experiments and made seminal contributions to the theoretical developments that underlie the field.

The Munk Award is presented jointly by The Oceanography Society, the Office of Naval Research and the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy. Wunsch will receive the award during the 170th Meeting of Acoustical Society of America in Jacksonville, Fla. (2-6 November 2015), and he will also be recognized during the Ocean Sciences Meeting in New Orleans, La. (21-26 February 2016). He will also give presentations at both meetings.

Wunsch joins the list of distinguished prior recipients of the Walter Munk Award:

2013: Steven Holbrook, University of Wyoming
2011: William Kuperman, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA
2009: James F. Lynch, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA
2006: Peter F. Worcester, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA
2003: H. Thomas Rossby, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, USA
2001: Robert C. Spindel, Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington, USA
1999: Robert Pinkel, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA
1997: Stephen A. Thorpe, Southampton Oceanography Centre, UK
1996: Leonid M. Brekhovskikh, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Russia
1994: David M. Farmer, Institute of Ocean Sciences, Canada
1993: Walter Munk, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA


The Oceanography Society was founded in 1988 to disseminate knowledge of oceanography and its application through research and education, to promote communication among oceanographers, and to provide a constituency for consensus-building across all the disciplines of the field.

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