Lynne Talley

IntroAmerican oceanographer
A.K.A.Lynne D. Talley


From United States of America 
Type Science 
Birth 18 May 1954 
, Schenectady, USA
Age66 years
Star signTaurus
Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A.G. Huntsman Award for Excellence in the Marine Sciences2003
Fellow of the American Geophysical Union 

Lynne Talley (born May 18, 1954) is an American physical oceanographer. A professor of physical oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, she has served as chief scientist on research ships, where she collected oceanographic hydrography data. She has participated in international steering groups and oversight committees for collection and use of oceanographic data. Talley is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, The Oceanography Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Early life and education

Talley was born May 18, 1954 in Schenectady, New York. She attended Marple-Newtown High School, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1971.

She received a B.A. in physics in 1976 from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio and a Bachelor of Music (B.M.) in piano performance from Oberlin Conservatory of Music. The following year, she studied piano performance with Carl Seeman at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg in Freiburg, Germany. She continued her studies at the New England Conservatory of Music. After moving to San Diego, she studied music at San Diego State University.

In 1982, Talley completed a Ph.D. in physical oceanography from the Joint Program in Oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. After a postdoctoral research position at Oregon State University, she joined the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1984.

Career and impact

Talley has worked at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego since 1984, where she has been a distinguished professor since 2012. While at Scripps, her research has combined analysis of ocean observations with advanced theoretical work to describe and map large-scale circulation. Talley’s research focuses on the general circulation of the ocean and the role of oceanic and atmospheric conditions that affect ocean currents and property distributions, including salinity. Her work involves analysis of data from most of the world’s oceans, depicting the movement of heat, salinity, and water masses, and the formation of water masses, particularly in subpolar regions.

From 2004 to 2007 she was a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) Working Group and a lead author of the Fourth Assessment Report Working Group I chapter of the group’s final report titled: “Observations: Oceanic Climate Change and Sea Level”, which was released in February 2007. The report earned contributing scientists a share of the Nobel Peace Prize later that year. She was also a lead author on the same topic for the Fifth Assessment Report.

In addition to academic publications, she has published a graduate level textbook on descriptive physical oceanography, and two oceanographic atlases. Her research and international/national committee work include a focus on ocean climate variability/change. She has played a leadership role in scientific planning and execution of international programs, including the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) of the 1990s and the CLIVAR/CO2 Repeat Hydrography Program of the 2000s to present.

In 2000, Talley and co-principal investigator, Daniel Rudnick, worked with moorings and hydrography on the collaborative Okhotsk Sea dense water formation project. In 2005-2006, Talley spent time in the field using hydrography, CTD, and profiling floats to understand Antarctic Intermediate Water formation in the southeast Pacific. Between 2005 and 2007, Talley also participated as part of the CLIMODE team on the CLIVAR Mode Water Dynamics Experiment (CLIMODE)].

In 2009, Talley spent time on sabbatical at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as a Visiting Scientist. The following year she took sabbatical at the Universite de Grenoble Joseph Fourier for sciences, health, technologies.

Talley has a long history of seagoing experiences. As a graduate student in 1978 she joined the hydrography cruise through the Southwestern South Pacific aboard the R/V Knorr. Between 1993 and 1997, Talley returned to the R/V Knorr serving as chief scientist on three WOCE hydrography cruises in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Subpolar North Atlantic. She has sampled the Pacific and Atlantic waters as part of the WOCE Field Program aboard research vessels including the R/V T. Washington (1984, co-chief scientist; 1991, chief scientist), R/V T. Thompson (1985, chief scientist), R/V Oceanus (1988, co-chief scientist), and R/V Melville (1989, chief scientist). In 1999, Talley served as chief scientist on the R/V Revelle sampling hydrography in the Japan/East Sea and then again as co-chief scientist aboard the Khromov in 1999 and 2000. In 2014, she served as chief scientist for the GO-SHIP hydrography, CTC, float deployment cruise in the southern Pacific aboard the R/V N.B. Palmer.

Since 2016, Talley has led the observation team of the SOCCOM project: Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM), which is deploying biogeochemical profiling Argo floats throughout the southern ocean south of 30S. Her research group is involved directly in float, hydrographic and satellite data analysis, interfacing with the Southern Ocean State Estimate and data-model comparisons. She also continues to act as co-chair to the steering committee of the ongoing U.S. GO-SHIP, which organizes and carries out the U.S. component of the international GO-SHIP program of deep-sea hydrographic cruises throughout the world’s oceans.


  • 1976 – Sigma Xi
  • 1976 – Phi Beta Kappa
  • 1984 – Mellon Foundation Fellowship (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
  • 1987 – Presidential Young Investigator (National Science Foundation)
  • 2001 – Rosenstiel Award (Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami)
  • 2003 – Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2003 – Huntsman Award (Bedford Institute of Oceanography)
  • 2006 – Fellow, American Geophysical Union
  • 2008 – Fellow, American Meteorological Society
  • 2010 – Fellow, The Oceanography Society
  • 2017 – Prince Albert I Medal International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans (IAPSO) International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
  • 2017 – Fridtjof Nansen Medal (European Geosciences Union)
  • 2017 – Henry Stommel Research Award (American Meteorological Society)
  • 2017 – Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science