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Award Lectures

TOS - Munk Award Lecture: The Ocean As a Complex Acoustic Medium

Session 135: Imaging the Ocean Interior: From Seismics to Optics
Wednesday, 22 February 2012, 14:00, Room 250

The Walter Munk Award is granted jointly by The Oceanography Society, the Office of Naval Research and the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy. Recipients are selected based on their 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; and/or outstanding service that fosters research in ocean science and instrumentation contributing to the above.

We congratulate the most recent recipient of The Munk Award:

Dr. William A. Kuperman, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California, USA

Modern ocean acoustics and acoustical oceanography are often associated with the forward and inverse acoustics problems, respectively. The forward problem deals with understanding the physics of acoustic propagation, scattering and noise given the ocean environment while the inverse problem is concerned with determining the ocean environment from acoustics. Further, a traditional goal of ocean acoustics is finding an acoustic source or scatterer as opposed to acoustical oceanography’s goal of “finding” oceanographic parameters. While appearing as opposites, the inverse problem requires extremely detailed knowledge of the forward problem so that one of the main spinoffs (maybe even the most important one to date) from acoustical oceanography has been our increased understanding of the forward problem. Intuitively, ocean complexity should play an inhibiting role in both approaches. However, as explained in this review, ocean complexity is actually an enabling factor to the goals of both areas.

AGU - Rachel Carson Award Lecture: Significance and Insignificance of the 2011 Mississippi Flood to Surrounding Waters

Session 031: Biogeochemical Cycles of Continental Margins: Drivers and Impacts
Tuesday, 21 February, 10:30, Ballroom J

Rachel Louise Carson was an American marine biologist, and an author of widely read books on the sea and ecological themes. Rachel Carson is remembered mainly for her last work, Silent Spring, published in 1962, two years before her death. This controversial work, which examined in alarming detail the environmental damage caused by the widespread use of chemical pesticides, led to a greater public awareness of the need to preserve and maintain our weakened environment. Her work also helped to bring about increased state and national regulation of the manufacture, use, and disposal of chemical pesticides.

We congratulate this year’s winner:

Nancy N. Rabalais, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Chauvin, Louisiana, USA

The flood of the Mississippi River in 2011 broke many freshwater discharge and nutrient load records. The MR drainage contributes 90+% of the sediment, nutrients and fresh water to the northern Gulf of Mexico, and its influence reaches thousands of kilometers away. The record flow forced breaking levees in Missouri and opening major spillways, the Morganza into the Atchafalaya River basin and the Bonnet Carré north of the city of New Orleans into Lake Pontchartrain, and proffered expectations of dense harmful algal blooms in receiving waters and the largest to-date ‘dead zone’ (area of low oxygen) offshore. Not all expectations were realized, with lower than expected chlorophyll biomass and HAB concentrations in Lake Pontchartrain (high flushing and high turbidity) and a smaller area of shelf hypoxia (tropical storm action and ocean currents). More detrimental effects were the severity and volume of low oxygen elsewhere, noxious and harmful algal blooms west and east of the delta, and large, persistent areas of low oxygen east of the delta in summer. The 2011 scenario mirrors climate change expectations for the watershed.

AGU – Sverdrup Award Lecture: Long-Term Changes in the Role of Zooplankton in Ocean Biogeochemical Processes

Session 039: Ocean Biogeochemistry Time-Series and Climate
Thursday, 23 February, 10:30, Location: Ballroom B

In 1951, Harald Ulrik Sverdrup received AGU’s highest honor, the William Bowie Medal. Sverdrup was an honest, unassuming, pious, hard-working, humorous and humane investigator of the atmosphere and the oceans as evident through his research, teaching and public service. His lasting reputation and the continued influence of his publications attest to his success.

We congratulate this year’s winner:

Deborah K. Steinberg, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, Virginia, USA

Zooplankton play an integral role in the cycling of elements in the sea through their grazing and metabolism. Zooplankton time series reflecting climate or other environmentally-influenced changes in zooplankton biomass and community structure can be used to determine associated changes in biogeochemical cycling, and to predict future changes. Analysis of time series from diverse environments, including the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study and the Palmer Antarctica Long-Term Ecological Research program, indicates long-term changes in zooplankton export processes, such as fecal pellet production and diel vertical migration. These changes can have significant effects on the magnitude of the biological pump, which regulates in part atmospheric carbon dioxide and hence can impact climate. Changes in zooplankton community structure also affects the quality and quantity of dissolved inorganic and organic matter they produce, which in turn can affect microbial communities. The role of some major taxa (common to both ecosystems is the significance of gelatinous zooplankton– salp blooms, to export), and process rates in major habitats (mesopelagic zone) are still needed to better incorporate the role of zooplankton into predictive biogeochemical models.