Dean Roemmich is Distinguished Professor of Oceanography in the Integrative Oceanography Division and the Climate, Atmospheric Science, and Physical Oceanography Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. He is an expert in the general circulation of the oceans and the role of the ocean in the climate system.

Roemmich teaches courses on large-scale ocean circulation and oceans and climate. He advises graduate students in the Climate, Ocean, and Atmosphere Program (COAP), and postdoctoral researchers.

Born in Minneapolis, Minn., Roemmich received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Swarthmore College and a PhD in oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology–Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography.

Roemmich is a leader in the Argo Program, a long-term systematic observing system of the physical state of the global ocean. Argo achieved a milestone of 3,000 free-drifting profiling floats in 2007 and has sustained over 3,000 floats for more than a decade since then. Using technology developed at Scripps, Argo floats drift about a mile below the ocean surface for a period of 10 days. The floats then rise to the sea surface, collecting a profile of temperature and salinity that is immediately transmitted via satellite to an Argo Data Center. The floats return to their assigned depth and continue making measurements for a lifetime of over five years, surfacing every 10 days to report their data. All Argo data are publicly available on the Internet and are used by researchers around the world.

The global array of 3,000 floats provides data from the subsurface ocean that is necessary to complement and interpret satellite measurements of sea-surface height and surface wind, as well as other subsurface observations. The combined observations are improving our understanding of the climate system, and enabled better prediction of seasonal-to-interannual climate variability. Argo data have been used in over 3000 research papers and over 250 PhD theses. Argo has revolutionized large-scale physical oceanography. Roemmich serves as co-chairman of the International Argo Steering Team and coordinator of the U.S. Argo Program. He led the original design team of the Argo array in 1998.

Roemmich’s role in the development and implementation of the Argo array, as well as earlier research achievements, were recognized by his receiving the American Meteorological Society’s Sverdrup Gold Medal in 2008 “For major contributions to the measurement and understanding of the ocean’s role in climate.” In 2010 Roemmich was named a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. In 2018 Roemmich was selected for the Alexander Agassiz Medal of the National Academy of Sciences and for membership in the National Academy of Engineering.

Roemmich’s experience as an educator began in 1971 as a secondary math/science teacher at Tonga High School, Nuku’alofa, Tonga, and then as a physics instructor at the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji. He was education coordinator for three Peace Corps training projects in Tonga.

His service includes membership on the NOAA Climate Working Group, the Tropical Pacific Observing System (TPOS 2020) Steering Committee, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences panel on “Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth’s Climate”, and the Pacific Islands Global Ocean Observing System (PI-GOOS) Steering Team. He’s technical advisor to a curriculum development program (SEREAD) introducing ocean science examples and data into the curricula of Pacific Island school systems. He served as a Lead Author for the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Roemmich has carried out basic research and teaching in large-scale ocean circulation and climate for over 35 years – implementing new technologies and designing, collecting, and analyzing new datasets in all of the world’s oceans. He has published over 90 research papers.

Last updated March 2018