Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 15 Issue 01

View Issue TOC
Volume 15, No. 1
Pages 135 - 141

The Evolution of Physical Oceanography in the Last Hundred Years

Walter Munk
Article Abstract

The last hundred years have seen a revolution in our understanding of ocean processes. I have selected a subset of seven topics. Technological developments generally led (rather than followed) new ideas. The advent of satellite remote sensing led to global sampling with adequate spatial sampling density (two quite different achievements, both of enormous consequence). Computers permitted the timely reduction of very large datasets of disparate observations into digestible displays, including also meaningful estimates of the uncertainties of the measured fields. Underlying all these development is a century of transition from grossly inadequate expeditionary sampling to an appreciation of a rational sampling strategy.


Munk, W. 2002. The evolution of physical oceanography in the last hundred years. Oceanography 15(1):135–141, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2002.45.