Kirk Bryan (oceanographer)
- For the geologist of the same name, see Kirk Bryan (geologist)
Kirk Bryan (born 1929) is an American oceanographer who is considered to be the founder of numerical ocean modeling. Starting in the 1960s at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, then located in Washington, D.C., Bryan worked with a series of colleagues to develop numerical schemes for solving the equations of motion describing flow on a sphere. His work on these schemes led to the so-called "Bryan-Cox code" with which many early simulations were made, and which led to the Modular Ocean Model currently used by many numerical oceanographers and climate scientists.
In addition to his important contributions in developing numerical codes, Bryan was also involved in early efforts to apply them to understanding the global climate system. In 1967, he published, with Michael Cox, the first model of the 3-dimensional circulation of the ocean, forced by both winds and thermodynamic forcing. In 1969, a paper with Syukoro Manabe was the first to present integrations of a fully coupled atmosphere-ocean model, demonstrating the importance of ocean heat transport to the climate. This work was recently named one of the top ten breakthroughs in the history of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Bryan's 1971 paper with the noted dynamicist Adrian Gill demonstrated the important role played by bottom topography in setting the structure of the global ocean circulation, and played a major role in suggesting links between changes in continental topography and climate, continuing a long-term interest in the role of oceanic heat transport in determining global climate.
Notable scientific papers
- Bryan, Kirk; Cox, M. D. (1967), "A numerical investigation of the oceanic general circulation", Tellus 19 (1): 54–80, doi:10.1111/j.2153-3490.1967.tb01459.x
- "Effects of geometry on the circulation of a three-dimensional southern-hemisphere ocean model", Deep-Sea Research 18, 1971: 685–721
- Bryan, K; Komro, F. G.; Manabe, S.; Spelman, M. J. (1982), "Transient climate response to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide", Science 215 (4528): 56–58, doi:10.1126/science.215.4528.56, PMID 17790468
- Oral History interview transcript with Kirk Bryan 20 December 1989, American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library and Archives