Stommel, Henry M.

Stommel, Henry M. (Melson)

(1920–  ) oceanographer; born in Wilmington, Del. He was a physical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (1944–59) before joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1959–60). He left MIT to teach at Harvard (1960–63), returned to MIT (1963–78), then moved back to Woods Hole as senior scientist (1979). He was considered the leading authority on Gulf Stream dynamics. Using physical models, he developed the first theory of this Atlantic current, which he later expanded into his definitive book, The Gulf Stream (1955). From 1954–76, Stommel established numerous long-term international projects to gather data on the world's ocean currents and geochemistry of the sea. Working with various colleagues, he made major contributions to studies of cumulus clouds, oceanic salinity and thermal gradients, and plankton distribution. In recognition of his profound influence on geophysical hydrodynamics and climatology, he shared Sweden's prestigious Crafoord Prize in 1983.