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Fellows Directory

Walter Munk

Walter Munk

Professor Walter Munk ForMemRS

Foreign Member

Elected: 1976


Walter Munk was a physical oceanographer who made significant contributions to our understanding of the oceans. His many areas of interest included ocean swells, tides, waves and wind-driven circulations; as well as collecting large-scale current and temperature measurements using the technique of ocean acoustic tomography.

Walter studied irregularities in the Earth’s rotation, along with helping to explain tidal locking, the phenomenon which keeps the near side of the moon facing the Earth. He proposed Project Mohole — an attempt to bore through the Earth’s crust into the mantle that later inspired the Deep Sea Drilling Project.

Over his lifetime, Walter received numerous awards in recognition of his work, including the US National Medal of Science in 1983; the Kyoto Prize in 1999; and, in 1993, the first Munk Award, which was named in his honour. In addition to being a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, he was elected as a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences.

Professor Walter Munk ForMemRS died on 8 February 2019.


  • Bakerian Medal and Lecture

    On 'Acoustic monitoring of ocean gyres'.

  • Crafoord Prize

    In the field of geosciences for his pioneering and fundamental contributions to our understanding of ocean circulation, tides and waves, and their role in the Earth’s dynamics.

  • Kyoto Prize

    In the field of earth and planetary sciences, astronomy and astrophysics.

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