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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
Oceanographers Honored
May 01, 2010

Three Ocean Surface Technology Science Team members have been named the recipients of two of NASA's most prestigious awards this spring.

John Ries and Jean-Paul Berthias
John Ries, of the Center for Space Research at the University of Texas at Austin, and Jean-Paul Berthias, of the Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES)

John Ries, of the Center for Space Research at the University of Texas at Austin, and Jean-Paul Berthias, of the Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES), were awarded NASA's Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal. JPL oceanographer Tony Lee received the 2010 NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal.

Ries and Berthias were cited "for outstanding achievements in improving precision orbit determination in NASA's ocean altimetry missions leading to the capability of monitoring global sea level change."

From 1998 to 2008, Ries and Berthias led an international interdisciplinary team to improve the accuracy of precision orbit determination for the TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, and the Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2 missions. "During this time, the improvement of precision orbit determination was mainly responsible for the unprecedented global observation of the largest El Niño event of the 20th century," said JPL oceanographer Lee-Lueng Fu, TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason project scientist. "The continuous improvement of precision orbit determination was also the foundation of the revolutionary capability of these three satellite altimeter missions in establishing the first truly global record of the change of sea level in response to climate change, laying the foundation for monitoring global sea level rise in a warming planet."

Tony Lee
JPL oceanographer Tony Lee

Lee's NASA award citation noted his "outstanding achievements and leadership in studying ocean circulation climate variability through synergistic utilization of satellite observations." Lee's research has focused on the use of multi-senor satellite observations, ocean modeling, and synthesis of satellite observations with ocean and ocean-atmosphere coupled models to study oceanic and atmospheric processes associated with climate variability. He is currently a co-chair of the U.S. CLIVAR Phenomena, Observations, and Synthesis Panel, a task team leader of the U.S. AMOC Program, and a member of the International CLIVAR Indian Ocean Panel and the GODAE OceanView scientific steering team.

"Tony has found new modes of decadal ocean and atmosphere variability that link the tropics and subtropics," said JPL oceanographer Ichiro Fukumori. "His studies have provided new insight into the workings of the climate system and have demonstrated the value and importance of long term observations of the ocean and atmosphere."

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