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Fridtjof Nansen Medal 2023 Alberto Naveira Garabato

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European Geosciences Union

Alberto Naveira Garabato

Alberto Naveira Garabato
Alberto Naveira Garabato

The 2023 Fridtjof Nansen Medal is awarded to Alberto Naveira Garabato for groundbreaking and pioneering research characterised by extraordinary insight and innovation that mechanistically revealed previously unseen key aspects of ocean mixing and ocean circulation.

Alberto Naveira Garabato is a rarity in oceanography, equally talented as the chief scientist leading an international field campaign, or at a desk developing a mechanistic understanding of the physical processes that underpin field measurements. His research on instabilities and mixing has been fundamental to understanding and quantifying the ocean’s role in the Earth climate system. In particular, his work has offered process level insights into the meridional overturning circulation as well as Southern Ocean circulation dynamics. Alberto Naveira Garabato’s talents span a wide range of intellectual spaces, thus supporting collaborations with top scientists across many disciplines. Hence, he is at the center of research that connects field measurements to theories of how the ocean works, with his research fostering an emphasis on the interplay between ocean mixing, ocean circulation, and climate variability and change.

Alberto Naveira Garabato has designed and led some of the most audacious, insightful, and successful international field missions in ocean and climate science, spanning the farthest reaches of the Southern Ocean into the North Atlantic. These investigations have studied physical processes in the ocean bottom boundary, the ocean interior, and the upper ocean. He developed and pioneered the use of leading-edge observational and diagnostic techniques, such as lowered acoustic doppler current profiler measurements to infer turbulence dissipation rates, complementing these inferences with state-of-the-science vertical microstructure profilers. He pioneered the use of deep autonomous underwater vehicles, proving their value for process physics measurements as a complement to ship-based profiles. Alberto Naveira Garabato’s skills at utilizing leading-edge technology in support of his science visions have provided an unprecedented mechanistic and quantitative view of the ocean physical process zoo.

Ocean processes that Alberto Naveira Garabato has investigated include turbulent diapycnal mixing induced by breaking internal gravity waves, both in the ocean interior and next to the bottom; symmetric instabilities in the upper ocean and bottom boundary, including their effects on turbulent mixing; and centrifugal instabilities next to ice-shelves and their role in transporting meltwater. His work has extended understanding of the complex interplay between mixing across and along isopycnals in the stratified ocean interior due to breaking internal waves and mesoscale eddies. His work has been pivotal for revealing the importance of diapycnal mixing associated with both upper and bottom boundary processes.

Alberto Naveira Garabato’s vast collaboration network has enabled him to connect ocean mixing to the carbon cycle, ocean nutrients, palaeo-oceanography, geomorphology, and marine life. He has worked with modelers and theorists to develop parameterisations of ocean processes, thus exploring implications of mixing for large-scale ocean circulation.

In conceiving and leading innovative field experiments, Alberto Naveira Garabato has attracted talent from undergraduate students through to senior scientists. Alberto Naveira Garabato contributes selflessly to the community in a huge number of ways, notably by championing diversity and equity in science through actively promoting the careers of women and people from across the spectrum of ethnic and social backgrounds. He has been a generous mentor and supervisor to a large number of scientists at all career stages, devoting great time and energy to helping establish and further their careers.