Schmittner Receives 2006 Ocean Sciences Early Career Award

Andreas Schmittner received the Ocean Sciences Early Career Award at the 2006 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif., in recognition of significant contributions to and promise in the ocean sciences.


schmittner_andreasI am pleased to introduce Andreas Schmittner as a recipient of the Ocean Sciences Early Career Award, in recognition of his contributions to understanding global change through coupled modeling of the Earth system. Andreas is addressing an exceptionally broad range of topics spanning physical oceanography, atmospheric sciences, ecology, chemistry, and geology.

Andreas’s degrees are in physics (undergraduate, University of Bremen, 1996; Ph.D., University of Bern, 1999). He was a postdoc and a lecturer at University of Victoria, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute in Jena, and at the University of Kiel before moving to Oregon State University. In spite of many moves, he wrote 27 papers in the short time since his Ph.D. His papers are widely cited and appear prominently in the IPCC fourth assessment.

Andreas has advanced understanding of the transient response of thermohaline circulation to greenhouse warming in models of intermediate complexity by incorporating the hydrologic cycle, implementing seasonal cycles, and improving treatments of ocean mixing, energy and moisture transport, and the cryosphere. These model improvements also led to studies of multiple climate equilibria, moisture transports associated with short-term climate variability, and mechanisms of glacial and millennial-scale climate change. More recently, Andreas has modeled oceanic nutrients, biology, gases, and isotope tracers for simulation of the carbon cycle. With these improvements he is addressing long-term ecological impacts of climate change, for example, by demonstrating surprisingly rapid biological changes of the North Pacific in response to freshwater anomalies in the North Atlantic, and global responses to the rise of tectonic gateways in the geologic past.

Andreas’s work integrates paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic data to help understand processes that are not well expressed in modern property distributions or historical changes. His work helps to constrain projections of future changes, which are of obvious and urgent concern to humanity. His modeling approach brings to mind Einstein’s dictum that we must seek theories that are as simple as possible, but no simpler. Andreas seems to find just the right niche between simplicity and complexity that yields useful answers.

A current project for Andreas is an AGU monograph on thermohaline circulation, which will document the current state of the art and set the stage for the new advances. Many of us are watching in anticipation to see what comes next. Andreas’s warm and generous collaborative spirit makes him an emerging leader and a great educator. He is a most worthy recipient of the AGU Ocean Sciences Early Career Award.

Alan C. Mix, Oregon State University, Corvallis.


Thank you, Alan, for your kind introduction. I feel privileged to be part of the scientific community. Receiving recognition from this community, in particular in the form of this prestigious award, is a great honor.

I have been moving a lot in the course of my career, and I had the pleasure to see such beautiful places as the Swiss Alps and Vancouver Island and meet many extraordinary scientists. I believe that the exposure to different labs has been very important for my scientific development. It has opened my eyes to different aspects, and allowed views under multiple angles, of the highly interdisciplinary science of climate change. I am most grateful to Christof Luepkes, my supervisor during the diploma thesis at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar Research, in Bremerhaven, Germany, for introducing me to numerical modeling and for his great sense of humor; Thomas Stocker, my Ph.D. supervisor at the University of Bern, Switzerland, who gave me the opportunity to study the fascinating world of ocean circulation and abrupt climate change; Andrew Weaver, my postdoctoral supervisor at the University of Victoria, Canada, who guided me to the world of three-dimensional ocean circulation modeling; and Michael Sarnthein, at the University of Kiel, who taught me a lot about Earth’s history. All of these great mentors gave me a lot of freedom to explore my own research ideas while at the same time supporting me in the most generous way and enthusiastically sharing their profound knowledge of the Earth system.

I enjoyed and learned a lot from discussions and interactions with many researchers. Thank you, Oleg Saenko, Andreas Oschlies, Katrin Meissner, Eric Galbraith, Damon Matthews, Mike Eby, Rolf Kaese, Masa Yoshimori, Tracy Ewen, Willem Sijp, Mara Weinelt, Christof Appenzeller, Martin Heiman, Sandy Harrison, Martin Werner, Karen Kohfeld, Xavier Giraud, and many others. I am particularly indebted to my new colleagues in Corvallis, for their warm welcome and for helping me get started in the United States. I now have the pleasure to work with great scholars such as Alan Mix, Peter Clark, Nick Pisias, Steve Hostetler, Ed Brook, Joe Stoner, and Pat Bartlein and to participate in the exiting new project PALEOVAR. Thank you, Peter Clark, for nominating me, and all those of you who wrote what must have been terribly exaggerated letters.

Thank you, Susanne, for your love and support. Ella, thank you for brightening every day of my life since your birth on July 14, 2006.

Andreas Schmittner, Oregon State University, Corvallis.