"This year, Australia’s prestigious Prime Minister’s Prize for Science has been
awarded to a physical oceanographer whose work has had a “transformative
impact” on our understanding of Earth’s oceans.
Professor Trevor McDougall AC from the University of New South Wales has made
major contributions to unveiling the fundamental physics of the ocean.
During his illustrious career, McDougall has discovered previously unknown
ocean mixing processes – the turbulent ways seawater churns and irreversibly
changes under various conditions.
His discoveries have improved climate models, allowing us to better predict our
planet’s fast-changing future.
“The ocean is notoriously difficult to observe; we know more about the surface
of the Moon than we do about the seafloor,” McDougall said.
“We study the ocean because it transports a lot of heat from the equatorial
regions towards the poles and also because it acts as the thermal flywheel of
the climate system.”
A world-leading authority on ocean mixing, McDougall was recognised for his
many contributions, including a redefinition of the thermodynamic description
of seawater. The latter was accepted by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic
Commission in 2009 as a new international standard.
“To receive the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science is an incredible honour, and
it’s also an honour for the early career researchers that I’ve been working
with for the past ten years,” said McDougall.
“They’ve been integral to some of the results that have been recognised in this
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