Lindstrom Receives 2013 Ocean Sciences Award

Eric J. Lindstrom received the 2013 Ocean Sciences Section Award at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of outstanding and long-standing service to the ocean sciences.


lindstrom_eric-jEric J. Lindstrom’s record over the last 3 decades exemplifies both leadership and service to the ocean science community. Advancement of ocean science not only depends on innovative research but is enabled by support of government agencies. As NASA program scientist for physical oceanography for the last 15 years, Eric combined his proven scientific knowledge and skilled leadership abilities with understanding the inner workings of our government bureaucracy, for the betterment of all. He is a four-time NASA headquarters medalist for his achievements in developing a unified physical oceanography program that is well integrated with those of other federal agencies.

Eric’s scientific interests have been directed toward the tropical ocean circulation and air-sea interaction processes. He has a total of 37 peer-reviewed publications (5 in AGU journals). Before NASA, Eric served in leadership roles in the World Ocean Circulation Experiment, Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Response Experiment, and Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), gaining enormous experience in large international and interagency research programs. He currently serves as cochair of the GOOS Steering Committee.

In addition to his dedication and hard work on behalf of physical oceanography, Eric operates with a high degree of integrity and is resourceful, politically savvy, and very effective at getting things done. He understands what is important, and his endeavors sustain a large body of scientific work in our field of oceanography and the broader climate community.

Eric Lindstrom is the most effective, proactive, science-knowledgeable program manager we have encountered. Our science is very fortunate for his devotion to the highest quality and integrity in program management.

—ARNOLD L. GORDON, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, N.Y.; and GARY S. E. LAGERLOEF, Earth Space Research, Seattle, Wash.


My sincere thanks go to the AGU Ocean Sciences section for this award. Is there any higher honor than recognition by one’s peers? To join the illustrious list of prior recipients is deeply moving. Thanks so much to Arnold and Gary for their abundant praise and support over many years.

Many of you do not know me and may typecast me only as a NASA program manager. However, my professional roots as a seagoing physical oceanographer still run deep. A career ambition remains to truly integrate our in situ and space-based ocean observing systems. I inherited the calling from mentors such as Bruce Taft at the University of Washington (my Ph.D. advisor), Angus McEwan at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Australia, Worth Nowlin at Texas A&M University, Richard Lambert at the National Science Foundation, Stan Wilson at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and an immensely supportive NASA team, including Michael Freilich and Jack Kaye.

I feel like my career has seen the emergence of a “golden age” in ocean science, so rich are developments of observations, models, theory, and practical applications. It continues to be an awesome experience. The development of incredible space-based observing capabilities and autonomous ocean profiling has enabled studies of the global ocean circulation that were merely dreams a few decades ago. Fully understanding the “slow dance” of the ocean-atmosphere system will require sustaining these capabilities over many more decades and advancing them further. There are still great expanses of ocean with a dearth of observations—the deep ocean (below 2 kilometers depth), the polar seas in the sea ice zone, and time series of surface fluxes in nearly all environments, to name a few. Further efforts to educate our society’s leaders on the importance of the ocean to the health and economy of life on Earth may be our highest priority, if we are to sustain ocean science and observations through austere times.

I am grateful for the support of my family and the entire ocean science community for making my career a labor of love. The Ocean Sciences Award is really shared with the many who make my career such a joy. Thank you.

—ERIC J. LINDSTROM, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D. C.