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Fellows Directory

Wallace Broecker

Wallace Broecker

Professor Wallace Broecker ForMemRS

Foreign Member

Elected: 2007


Wallace Broecker was a geochemist whose research has fundamentally revised scientific understanding of the interaction between the Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans. His ‘ocean conveyor belt’ model of worldwide currents is central to understanding how atmospheric and oceanic carbon dioxide levels affect the global climate.

He pioneered ways of using radioactive dating and measurements of oceanic chemical composition to reveal the changes in ocean currents over the last three million years. In addition, his work revealed the key processes that drove the beginning and end of recent ice ages. His later work focused on research into carbon sequestration — the trapping and storing of carbon dioxide.

Wallace was active in promoting scientific and public understanding of ice age-defining processes. He co-authored the key textbook, Tracers in the Sea (1982), and presented expert evidence to US congressional inquiries. Amongst Wallace’s many honours were the US National Medal of Science, which he was awarded by President Bill Clinton, and the 2006 Crafoord Prize in Geosciences.

Professor Wallace Broecker ForMemRS died on 18 February 2019.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Earth and environmental sciences
    • Climate sciences, Chemical oceanography, Geochemistry


  • Balzan Prize

    For science of climate change.

  • Blue Planet Prize

    No citation available for this award.

  • Crafoord Prize

    In the field of geosciences for research into the global carbon cycle.

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