Harald Sverdrup (oceanographer)
15 November 1888|
Sogndal, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
21 August 1957 (aged 68)|
University of Oslo |
University of Leipzig
Vega Medal (1930)|
Alexander Agassiz Medal (1938)
William Bowie Medal (1951)
Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen|
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Norwegian Polar Institute
|Doctoral advisor||Vilhelm Bjerknes|
|Doctoral students||Walter Munk|
Harald Ulrik Sverdrup (15 November 1888 – 21 August 1957) was a Norwegian oceanographer and meteorologist. He was director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and director of the Norwegian Polar Institute. 
He was born at Sogndal in Sogn og Fjordane, Norway. He was the son of Lutheran theologian Edvard Sverdrup (1861-1923) and Maria Vollan (1865-1891). His sister Mimi Sverdrup Lunden (1894-1955) was an educator and author. His brother Leif Sverdrup (1898-1976) was a General with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. His brother Einar Sverdrup (1895–1942) was CEO of Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani. 
Sverdrup was a student at Bergen Cathedral School in 1901 before graduating in 1906 at Kongsgård School in Stavanger. He graduated cand. real. in 1914 from University of Oslo. He studied under Vilhelm Bjerknes and earned his Dr. Philos. at the University of Leipzig in 1917. 
He was the scientific director of the North Polar expedition of Roald Amundsen aboard the Maud from 1918 to 1925. His measurements of bottom depths, tidal currents, and tidal elevations on the vast shelf areas off the East Siberian Sea correctly described the propagation of tides as Poincare waves. Upon his return from this long expedition exploring the shelf seas to the north of Siberia, he became the chair in meteorology at the University of Bergen. 
He was made director of California's Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1936, initially for 3 years but the intervention of World War II meant he held the post until 1948. During 33 expeditions with the research vessel E. W. Scripps in the years 1938-1941 he produced a detailed oceanographic dataset off the coast of California. He also developed a simple theory of the general ocean circulation postulating a dynamical vorticity balance between the wind-stress curl and the meridional gradient of the Coriolis parameter, the Sverdrup balance. This balance describes wind-driven ocean gyres away from continental margins at western boundaries. 
After leaving Scripps, he became director of the Norwegian Polar Institute in Oslo and continued to contribute to oceanography, ocean biology and polar research. In biological oceanography, his Critical Depth Hypothesis published in 1953 was a significant milestone in the explanation of phytoplankton spring blooms.
Sverdrup was a member of both the United States National Academy of Sciences and Norwegian Academies of Science. He served as President of the International Association of Physical Oceanography and of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). His many publications include his magnum opus The Oceans: Their Physics, Chemistry and General Biology by Sverdrup, Martin W. Johnson and Richard H. Fleming (1942, new edition 1970) which formed the basic curriculum of oceanography for the next 40 years around the world.   
In 1928, he married Gudrun (Vaumund) Bronn (1893–1983) and adopted her daughter Anna Margrethe.
He was awarded the William Bowie Medal by the American Geophysical Union, the Alexander Agassiz Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the Medal of the Royal Geographical Society, the Vega Medal by the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography and the Swedish Order of the Polar Star. 
Norwegian research vessel M/S H.U. Sverdrup II is named in his honor. 
T. Wayland Vaughan
| Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography
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- Sager, Gunther. "In Memoriam Prof. Dr. Harald Ulrik Sverdrup." Zeitschrift fur Meteorologie 11, heft 9 (September 1957): 257-259.
- Revelle, Roger and Walter Munk. "Harald Ulrik Sverdrup - An Appreciation." Journal of Marine Research 7, no. 3 (1948): 127-131.
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- Scripps Institution of Oceanography website
- Harald Sverdrup Manuscripts SMC 121. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego Library.
- H U Sverdrup II Research/Survey Vessel