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Eddie Bernard, Ph.D.

Director, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

photo of Eddie Bernard


  • PhD, Physical Oceanography, Texas A & M, 1976
  • MS, Physical Oceanography, Texas A & M, 1970
  • BS, Physics, Lamar University, 1969

Dr. Eddie Bernard has served as Director of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, one of NOAA's Oceanographic Research Laboratories, since 1983. He directs a broad range of oceanographic research programs including ocean climate dynamics, fisheries oceanography, El Niño forecasts, tsunamis, and seafloor spreading.

Under his leadership, PMEL has contributed the following to society:

  • Completion of the Pacific TAO array, the world's largest ocean observing system, in December 1994. The Pacific TAO array, consisting of seventy moored buoys in the equatorial wave guide, measure and relay surface wind, sea surface temperature, upper ocean temperatures and currents, air temperature, and relative humidity in real-time via satellite. TAO data are a major source of information about variability in the Tropical Pacific and are used in operational weather forecasting and El Nino prediction. TAO data have been especially valuable for detecting, forecasting, and understanding the evolution of the 1997-98 El Nino, the largest of the 20th century and the first El Nino to occur since the completion of the array.
  • The Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI) scientists developed the Shelikof Recruitment Index (SRI) in 1992 based on process-oriented studies, field surveys, and numerical modeling experiments. This index is used to predict the abundance of age-0 and age-1 walleye pollock that will survive to recruit to the Shelikof Strait, Gulf of Alaska, fishery as adults. SRI incorporates environmental estimates such as rainfall, wind mixing, advection, and larval abundance. Predictions by SRI compare favorably with actual recruitment. Together with spawning biomass estimates also produced by FOCI, the index provides fishery-independent information that helps National Marine Fisheries Service stock assessment scientists project future stock sizes. These projections advise the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, who establish fishing quotas for the Gulf of Alaska.
  • FOCI's observations in the Bering Sea led to the discovery and naming of a new current, the Aleutian North Slope Current (ANSC). By measuring hydrography, trajectories of satellite-tracked drift buoys, and current velocities on the north side of the Aleutian Islands, PMEL scientists determined that there was a persistent, well-defined, eastward flow with significant transport in regions that had been identified historically as only sometimes having weak, eastward flow. The ANSC is made up of relatively warm, nutrient-rich water whose source is the Alaskan Stream, some of which enters the Bering Sea through the deep passes of the Aleutian Islands. Water properties borne by the ANSC are important to the ecology of the eastern Bering Sea shelf, e.g., the spawning success of walleye pollock.
  • PMEL scientists acquired the first multibeam swath sonar mapping system and generated the first high-resolution bathymetric maps of the entire northeast Pacific portion of the global seafloor spreading center system. These maps led eventually to the discovery that seafloor volcanic eruptions produce episodic heat and chemical perturbations in the overlying water column that can double the heat and mass fluxes from a ridge segment to the ocean.
  • PMEL oceanographers developed a real-time acoustic event detection and location system using the U.S. Navy's Pacific network of hydrophone arrays. This capability was used to detect the onset of a deep volcanic eruption off the coast of Oregon in 1993. This enabled NOAA scientists to document, for the first time ever, an example of the most common type of volcanic eruption on Earth while it was active. This event and detection system is also being used to locate and track marine mammals in collaboration with the NMFS.
  • PMEL engineers and scientists pioneered the development of a deep-ocean tsunami monitoring network consisting of an array of bottom pressure recorders in the north Pacific Ocean and generated high quality tsunami inundation maps for three U.S. coastal communities historically threatened by the tsunami hazard.

Dr. Bernard joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970 as a research oceanographer. From 1973 to 1977, Dr. Bernard developed numerical models to study the dynamics of tsunamis at the Joint Tsunami Research Effort in Honolulu. One model was transferred to the USSR during the US/USSR bilateral effort on tsunami warnings in the Pacific. From 1977 to 1980, Dr. Bernard served as director of the National Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu where he applied computer technology in automating much of the warning operations.

Prior to his service with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Bernard served as an exploration geophysicist for a major oil company.

As a noted oceanographer and expert on tsunamis, Dr. Bernard has edited three books and published over 70 scientific papers, articles, and reports. He is past Chairman of the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, a joint Federal/State effort (1997-2004) and past-chairman of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics' Tsunami Commission (1987-1995). He is a member of the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program Steering Group, the American Geophysical Union, and the Oceanographic Society. His university affiliations include membership on the administrative boards of the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (University of Hawaii); the Joint Institute for Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (University of Washington; the Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research (University of Alaska); Advisory Board for the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and the Cooperative Institute for Ocean Remote Sensing (Oregon State University); and the Joint Institute for Marine Observations (University of California, San Diego, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography). Dr. Bernard is an Affiliate Professor , University of Washington, Department of Earth and Space Sciences. He is a member of the Washington Sea Grant Steering Committee and an advisor for the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and the College of Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University.

Dr. Bernard has produced a scientific movie on tsunami research and has been featured in over 20 television specials on tsunamis, including the National Geographic Society Special on tsunamis. He is a member of Sigma Pi Sigma and is listed in American Men and Women in Science, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the West, and Who's Who in Science and Engineering. He has received numerous honors and awards for outstanding performance in NOAA--including the Department of Commerce Gold Medal in 2004 and 2005, and the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award in 1993 and again in 2002. In 1984 he was honored as a recipient of Esquire Magazine's Best of the New Generation Award.

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