Robert A. Weller is a seagoing experimentalist or observational oceanographer who has made in his short career several truly outstanding contributions to understanding how the upper ocean responds to atmospheric forcing. He is without doubt one of the most capable and creative oceanographers of his age and deserves the recognition provided by the James B. Macelwane Award as a “young geophysicist of outstanding ability and promise.”
After receiving his undergraduate degree in engineering a n d applied physics from Harvard, Bob Weller entered graduate school in physical oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and worked with Russ Davis on the development of a new mechanical current meter to be used in upper ocean studies. While several current meter designs then in use worked well on subsurface moorings in the d e e p ocean, no existing current meter performed well in the upper ocean. After considerable experimental effort, Bob developed a mechanical flow sensor (using two coupled propellers) with nearly perfect cosine response and then used two of these sensors mounted at right angles with associated electronics to build the vector-measuring current meter (or VMCM). By mechanically filtering out the usually very large oscillatory flows with periods less than a minute associated with surface wave and wave-induced mooring motion, the VMCM allows accurate measurement of the generally smaller lowerfrequency horizontal velocities present in the upper ocean. Weller and Davis received a patent for this novel instrument design, and a commercial version has been in production since 1981. Bob has continued to make improvements in the VMCM, and this instrument has become the standard for both upper ocean and coastal ocean circulation studies.