San Diego

World-Renowned Oceanographer Walter Munk Dies at 101

Renowned oceanographer and founder of the University of California, San Diego, Walter Munk has died at the age of 101, the university announced Friday.

Munk made ground-breaking discoveries in oceanography and gave Allied forces a strategic advantage in WWII, according to an obituary posted by Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO).

"Munk’s contributions to science throughout the latter half of the 20th Century and into the present century were measured not only in terms of the new knowledge his research yielded, but in the quality and diversity of the questions he considered. An ethos he expressed throughout his career was for scientists to take risks, pursue new directions, and embrace the educational value of failure," the obituary read.

The institution said Munk passed away at his home in La Jolla.

SIO said that Munk, Austrian by birth, moved to La Jolla in 1939 to pursue a romantic interest. He applied for a summer job at Scripps in 1939 and, despite the romance never materializing, stayed in La Jolla, served in the U.S. Army, and eventually earned his Master's degree.

Munk served with the 146th Field Artillery, 41st Division at Fort Lewis, Washington. He was recalled by Scripps' then-director Harald Sverdrup and returned to Point Loma to work at a U.S. Navy Sound and Radio Laboratory.

He and Sverdrup worked together to develop a way to predict wave conditions for Allied amphibious landings in the Pacific and Atlantic theaters of war.

"The meteorologists they trained correctly predicted that the waves troops would face taking the beach in Normandy would be high but manageable," his obituary said.

Munk received a PhD in Oceanography from UCLA after WWII.

Read Munk's entire obituary here.

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