The Prince Albert I Medal

Prince Albert I Medal recipient 2003

Dr. Klaus Wyrtki

Dr Klaus WyrtkiDr. Klaus Wyrtki is now best known for his ENSO research from the 1970s to 1993. He developed breakthroughs in understanding and forecasting El Nino; and he established the tide gage network that provided the essential oceanographic data set. He is recognized for having intellectual courage as well as deep insight into the problem. His work changed attention from the complex thermodynamics determining sea surface temperatures to the far more tractable problem of wind driven ocean dynamics. In addition, through flawless regional data analysis with sound application of ocean dynamics, he has conceptually made clear the fundamental workings of the ocean. He developed what is now the foundations of our understanding of the cold, deep ocean circulation and stratification. His 1960 paper on the Southern Ocean was the first to link the large-scale structure of the circumpolar current to meridional fluxes and ocean fronts. His 1961 paper on global thermohaline circulation is the first to relate deep ocean convection with global diapycnal mixing. In 1962, he showed that the low oxygen layer under the thermocline is a compromise between global thermohaline circulation and oxidation of organic material. He also authored a monograph on the Indonesian Seas, mapped the Indian Ocean, the mean and eddy kinetic energy of the global ocean, and conducted landmark work on the Red Sea. In the Indian Ocean, he is credited with the discovery of the Eastward Equatorial Jet, now called the Wyrtki Jet, in the upper hydrosphere of the equatorial Indian Ocean.