The Jerlov Award

Awarded in Recognition of Contributions Made to the Advancement of Our Knowledge of the Nature and Consequences of Light in the Ocean


Nils Gunnar Jerlov was an early leader in the area of ocean optics research. His name is recognized widely within the entire international oceanographic research community. Jerlov’s theoretical and experimental work on ocean optical and related processes helped form the foundation of modern ocean optical research. He proposed the concept of an optical ocean water mass classification and the Jerlov water types are familiar to many outside of the ocean optics community. His book, Marine Optics, published in 1976, remains widely referenced and is considered required reading for all students of ocean optics and ocean color remote sensing.

The Oceanography Society commemorates Dr. Jerlov and his many contributions to the study of light in the ocean with an international award, given biennially, to an individual ocean scientist for having significantly advanced our knowledge of how light interacts with the oceanThe award consists of a bronze medallion designed by Judith Munk, a lapel pin, travel support to attend the Ocean Optics Conference, and a cash award.

This award is supported by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Office of Naval Research.


The deadline for nominations for the next award is June 1, 2020. Submit all nomination materials and direct all questions to:


To be eligible for nomination, the recipient’s work must deal directly with the processes governing the interaction of light with the ocean and/or the consequences of such interactions. More

Nomination Procedure

The master nominator serves as the point of contact. Submission of materials in electronic format is required. > More

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