Walter H. Munk, one of the most important oceanographers of the 20th century, who sent sound pulses through the great oceans, which were probably surprised by several whales to measure changes in water temperature, predicted waves and sought signs of global warming, died on Friday in his seaside home in the La Jolla section of San Diego. He was 101.
The California University of San Diego reported her death on her website. His home, named Seiche, is near a university campus where he spent his career at Scripps's Oceanography Institute after joining his faculty in 1947.
"We thought he would live forever," said his wife, Mary Munk, for the San Diego Union Tribune. She said that the cause of death was pneumonia.
Dr. Munk, a research scientist who revealed his discoveries with luxury, was sometimes called "Einstein of the oceans" for his pioneering work in studying waves, oceanic circulation, tides and irregularities in the rotation of the Earth. (He was also a geophysical.)
In a study in the 1960s, which did not need to look far at the subject, he discovered that waves measured on land in measured species in Southern California arose thousands of miles away in storms that stretched across the southern Indian Ocean. The discovery led to better predictions of the great waves that surfers wanted.
As a young scientist during World War II, he and Harald U. Sverdrup, director of the then Scripps, developed a method for predicting the size of surfing on the beaches during amphibian landings so that landing vessels can avoid overflowing.
The method was first used in US landings in North Africa in 1942. Later it correctly announced that the waves would be high but manageable during landings D of the day that the Allies in Normandy carried out on 6 June 1944. used on amphibious landings in the Pacific Ocean, was attributed to saving lives for thousands of soldiers and seamen.
In his Oceans Sound Research, which began in the 1970s, Dr. Munk and his colleagues transmit low-frequency sounds that can travel thousands of kilometers at a certain depth without significant deterioration.
As the sound in warm water moves faster than in cold, the technique can measure the difference in the average temperature over a long distance. Munk and his colleagues have demonstrated its feasibility by transmitting a pulse of sound from a loudspeaker dropped into the water near the island of Heard in the Indian Ocean in 1991. It was detected by the listening stations thousands of miles away.
"And that was the best news I ever heard," said Dr. Munk for the New York Times of 2015. The Heard Islands broadcasts have become known as "the sound that sounds all over the world."
Walter Heinrich Munk was born on 19 October 1917 in Vienna in a wealthy banking family of Jewish heritage, Hans Munck and Rege Brunner. The couple divorced when Walter was a child. His grandfather by his mother, Lucian Brunner, was a respected banker and Austrian politician. His eyes, dr. Rudolf Engelsberg was later briefly a member of the Austrian government of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, who was murdered in 1934 by Nazi agents.
When he grew up in Vienna, Walter often traveled to the Austrian countryside, and his father occasionally served as a driver. Francis Joseph, Austrian Emperor, during the First World War. "He had the only Rolls-Royce in Vienna," said Dr. Munk.
At the age of fourteen, he was sent to New York to attend an internment home with the idea that he would eventually work in a branch of a private New York bank, which is linked to his family. After graduation, he became a leader at the bank to learn from below.
But after three years of attending courses at Columbia University, he decided not to cut out for banking and went to California. He appeared at the California Institute of Technology and asked for admission, even though he did not apply. The dean did not accept him when he passed the entrance exam.
Walter Munk graduated from Caltech in 1939 (the same year he became a US citizen), and obtained a master's degree a year later and a PhD degree. at the University of California, Los Angeles, for work done at Scripps.
In 1939, he volunteered to join the army, but after 18 months of military service, he was relieved of his investigation of naval submarines. His military unit was later sent to New Guinea to fight the Japanese and was almost destroyed.
First marriage dr. Munk, Martha Chapin Munk, ended up with a divorce. His second wife, Judith, died in 2006 after more than 50 years of marriage. They had two daughters. In 2011, he married Mary Coakley.
In addition to his wife, he also survived his daughters Edie and Kendall, and three grandchildren, U.C. San Diego said. The second daughter, Lucian, who was born with a heart failure, died at 7 years in 1961.
After the war, Munk participated in the research of atomic tests in the Pacific. He and his colleague got 10 days to measure the circulation of water in and out of the Bikini Bay before the atomic test in 1946 and witnessed the abortion 10 miles from zero. Because of the concern that an atomic explosion could cause the tsunami, it developed a warning system.
In the 1950s, he conducted research in the field of geophysics, where he established a research institute in this field at Scripps and explained to his colleague why the Earth is fluctuating on its axis and why its rotation changes slightly.
Dr. Munk was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Among the prizes he received was the National Medal of Science, the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Kyoto Prize for Fundamental Sciences, which he received in 1999 for his work in physical oceanography and geophysics. He was the first scientist in his field to receive the prize.
Dr. Munk also worked on climate change research, in particular on how the rise of the sea level affects the rotation of the Earth (measured in millions of seconds per year). He praised climate agreements in Paris in 2015 and called for global efforts to resolve this issue.
At a question-and-answer meeting at the University of Delaware in 2016, a journalist asked him what the company should do about climate change. Dr. Munk replied: "We have to stop melting ice sheets."
V in a second interview in 2009, he said: "I am very worried that there is not much to heat the oceans. Two thirds of the added heat in the last 50 years went into the ocean and only one-third in the atmosphere. If there were no oceans for storing heat on this planet, the warming of the atmosphere would increase three times. «
During his career, Munk shifted to various fields of research when the spirit moved him.
"You will see that I was a dabbler," he said in an interview with Scientific American in 1995. He added: "I am not a lot of scholars. I do not want to read. I like to work in a field where nothing is published, to find out. "
Confidently, he never went to the nickname "Einstein of the oceans".
"Einstein was a great man," once said The Union-Tribune. "I've never been at this level."