Father of modern Oceanography honoured by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

UNESCO Media Advisory No.2018-28


Paris, 28 June — Walter Munk, a giant of modern oceanography, will deliver the Roger Revelle Memorial Lecture during the Executive Council of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) at UNESCO’s Headquarters on 5 July (4.45 pm).

In his lecture, the 100-year-old scientist, described by the New York Times newspaper as “the Einstein of Oceanography,” will share his unique perspective on the evolution of oceanography over the past eight decades.

“It is an honour for UNESCO to receive Professor Munk and benefit from his insights into the great progress of oceanography and how much further it can go in contributing to the safeguarding of our shared ocean and the construction of a more sustainable world,” said Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO. The IOC Executive Council will present Walter Munk with the UNESCO Roger Revelle Medal, which, like the memorial lecture itself, is named after Roger Revelle (USA, 1909—1991), a pioneering researcher into, among other subjects, anthropogenic global warming.

Born in Austria in 1917, Walter Munk, has been a physical oceanographer and geophysicist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (USA) since 1939. Over a long life of scientific inquiry, Munk has made decisive contributions to our understanding of ocean currents, tides and deep-ocean mixing, tsunamis and seismic waves, as well as the rotation of the Earth.

At Scripps, he was among the founders of the Institute of Geophysics in 1962 and in 2015 he cofounded the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology with Damien Leloup.

Each year, the IOC’s Executive Council reviews the Intergovernmental Commission’s work and prepares the General Assembly of the IOC’s 149 Member States. This year, the Council will notably focus on preparations for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).