UH professor elected to Academy of Arts & Sciences
Klaus Wyrtki is honored for his work in ocean sciences
University of Hawaii professor emeritus Klaus Wyrtki has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences along with former Vice President Al Gore, former Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.
"Dr. Wyrtki's selection for this prestigious honor is a reminder of the world-class reputation of some of our outstanding faculty on the Manoa campus," said UH Interim Chancellor Denise Konan.
Wyrtki will be inducted into the academy in a ceremony Oct. 6 at its Cambridge, Mass., headquarters.
The academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots to recognize "the finest minds and most influential leaders from each generation." They include such notable figures as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill.
Wyrtki joins three other UH-Manoa scholars who have been named as Academy of Arts & Sciences Fellows: Institute for Astronomy scientists George Herbig and David Jewett and American-studies visiting professor James Oliver Horton.
Wyrtki, the first to investigate Pacific circulation and work on the El Nino phenomenon, has won numerous honors, including the Prince Albert I Medal from the International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans.
He was a UH-Manoa professor for 29 years, becoming a professor emeritus in 1993. He was co-founder of the Global Sea Level Observing System and directed the UH Sea Level Center.
Sea level measurements enabled the oceanographer to understand how ocean conditions in the far western equatorial Pacific affected ocean temperatures off Peru's coast more than 5,000 miles away. The warm current, arriving usually in late December, was called El Nino.
Wyrtki obtained his doctorate degree in 1950 in postwar Germany and worked as an oceanographer in Indonesia, Monaco, Australia and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego before joining UH.
He served as chairman of the North Pacific Experiment from 1974 to 1980, gathering information on sea level variations. He set up a worldwide network of tide gauges.
The UH Sea Level Center that he set up continues to monitor large-scale sea level changes and currents and contributes important data for climate research.
He made many scientific contributions to physical oceanography, and his books, "Oceanographic Atlas of the International Indian Ocean Expedition" and "Physical Oceanography of the Southeast Asian Waters," continue to be invaluable scientific resources.