State of the Planet

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Taro Takahashi Receives Inaugural Wallace S. Broecker Medal

The Oceanography Society announced today that it has selected Taro Takahashi as the first recipient of the Wallace S. Broecker Medal.

taro takahashi portrait
Photo: Miriam Cinquegrana

Takahashi, who passed away in December 2019, uncovered key links between the oceans and climate. His research at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory helped to reveal that the oceans absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, burying it deep underwater as cold waters sink around the Antarctic and Arctic. As those waters circulate and rise up again near the equator, they release some of the stored-up carbon dioxide back into the air. Over his six-decade research career, Takahashi continued to refine scientific understanding of this cycle and the biogeochemistry that drives it.

Takahashi is also remembered as an excellent mentor to his colleagues and junior scientists, as well as for his strong conviction that community service is an important part of being a researcher.

His achievements will be recognized during The Oceanography Society’s Honors Ceremony on February 18, 2020, at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California.

About the Award

Wallace S. “Wally” Broecker was Newberry Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and a geochemist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. After early work in Pleistocene geochronology, he made major contributions to chemical oceanography, developing a kinetic view of chemical distributions in the ocean, their role in tracing ocean circulation and the carbon cycle, and their utility as paleoceanographic tracers to discern large-scale changes in the global ocean and climate systems. He introduced the term “global warming” to the scientific lexicon, and was a leading voice for development of informed solutions to human-caused climate change, including reduction of excess greenhouse gases. Before he passed away in February 2019, he was awarded numerous fellowships and awards, including Fellowship in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences and receipt of the Crafoord Prize in Geosciences, the Alexander Agassiz Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Medal of Science of the United States and many others. Broecker and Takahashi worked closely together.

The Oceanography Society was founded in 1988 to advance oceanographic research, technology, and education, and to disseminate knowledge of oceanography and its application through research and education. The society’s Wallace S. Broecker Medal recognizes sustained innovative, and impactful contributions to original research in the areas of marine geoscience, chemical oceanography, or paleoceanography, along with outstanding contributions to education and mentorship in the field.

Adapted from a press release by The Oceanography Society.

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