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UW’s Holbrook Receives Oceanography Honor

June 20, 2013
Man with underwater mapping equipment
Steve Holbrook, UW Department of Geology and Geophysics professor, is the 2013 recipient of the Walter Munk Award for Distinguished Research in Oceanography Related to Sound and the Sea from the Oceanography Society. (UW Photo)

University of Wyoming Professor Steve Holbrook has received one of the Oceanography Society’s most prestigious honors.

Holbrook, UW Department of Geology and Geophysics faculty member, is the 2013 recipient of the Walter Munk Award for Distinguished Research in Oceanography Related to Sound and the Sea.

The Oceanography Society has presented this award every two years since 1993 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; and outstanding service that fosters research in ocean science and instrumentation.

A media release from the Oceanography Society calls Holbrook “the father of the new field of ‘seismic oceanography.’”

“His use of low-frequency seismic reflection profiling to image the water column has provided quantitative and novel insights into the structure and dynamics of internal waves, eddies and mixing processes,” the release says. “With his innate and relentless curiosity, he has provided unprecedented views of the internal workings of the ocean. His generous collegiality has also been a stimulus to the formation of an interdisciplinary seismic oceanography community.”

During the course of his career, Holbrook has studied topics as varied as continental breakup, volcanism and continental growth, physical oceanography and methane hydrates -- on research cruises in such far-flung places as Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Newfoundland, Alaska, Costa Rica and New Zealand.

Seismic oceanography, which he developed, is considered a new type of research in the world of seismology. Holbrook was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2012.

Holbrook played a key role in securing a five-year, $20 million grant award from the National Science Foundation to UW’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The grant, the largest in UW’s 126-year history, will support wide-ranging research of regional water issues. As part of the grant, the Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics (WyCEHG), a multidisciplinary center, was established at UW in July 2012. Holbrook is serving as co-director of the center.

The Munk Award is presented jointly by the Oceanography Society, the Office of Naval Research and the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy. Holbrook will receive the award during the 166th meeting of Acoustical Society of America in San Francisco in December, and he will also be recognized during the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, in February. He will give presentations at both meetings.

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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