Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 16 Issue 03

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Volume 16, No. 3
Pages 20 - 28


Scripps in the 1940s: The Sverdrup Era

Douglas L. Inman
First Paragraph

In the period 1936–1941, Scripps Institution of Oceanography was transforming from the earlier biological institute to a world-class oceanographic institution (Day, 1999). Harald Sverdrup (Figure 1) pulled the modern discipline of oceanography together with the book, The Oceans, Their Physics, Chemistry, and General Biology. Along with his coauthors, biologist Martin Johnson and chemist Richard Fleming, Sverdrup set an interdisciplinary pattern that would become the hallmark of the new field of oceanography. Although William E. Ritter, Scripps director from 1903 to 1923, believed in the inter-relatedness of all science (Mills, 1991), it was Sverdrup who set the institution on its modern track, designed the curriculum, and brought in the first graduate classes. Sverdrup came to Scripps as director in 1936, began writing The Oceans in 1938, and returned to Norway in 1948. It is appropriate to designate the decade of the 1940s as the “Sverdrup Era.”


Inman, D.L. 2003. Scripps in the 1940s: The Sverdrup Era. Oceanography 16(3):20–28, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2003.26.

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