Dr Rosemary Morrow is a global expert on one of the most critical metrics of climate change: sea level. As a leading oceanographer, based at the Laboratory of Space Geophysical and Oceanographic Studies (LEGOS) in France, Dr Morrow’s research over the past three decades has played a central role in scientific understanding of sea level variations, and the connection to global warming. Dr Morrow’s expertise lies in the use of satellite and in-situ observations to monitor and measure ocean dynamics, with the goal of better understanding the role of what is known as ‘mesoscale ocean processes: the weather systems of the ocean circulation. These systems move heat & nutrients through the oceans with major impacts on regional & global climate. Dr Morrow’s research is of fundamental importance to the future of our planet.
Dr Morrow completed her PhD in Physical Oceanography at Sydney University, before moving to France where she has spent the past 30 years working at the forefront of oceanographic research and discovery. She has published or co-authored more than 120 papers over her career, and in 2009 she was named co-Chair of the International Ocean Surface Topography Science Team. After years working with groups of scientists across France, Australia and the US to drive new discoveries in her field, Dr Morrow’s work was recognised by the French Government in 2012 with the rare distinction of Chevalier dans L’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, considered an order of knighthood in France for distinguished academic service.
Dr Morrow’s work has taken her into some of the most remote areas of the planet. In collaboration with Australian researchers at CSIRO, she has participated in Antarctic expeditions over 25 years aimed at ground-truthing measurements of the ocean internal variations related to sea level rise. This year, her research will extend into space, as the CNES Oceanography Science Lead for NASA/CNES’s first global survey of Earth’s surface water. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite mission will map the elevation of water surfaces on Earth at a resolution that has not been possible before. The mission aims to improve estimates of coastal & regional sea surface elevations and the volumes of water stored in lakes, reservoirs, wetlands, and rivers around the world. Dr Morrow’s contribution to this groundbreaking mission continues to demonstrate the impact of her leadership in understanding the impacts of climate change and securing the future of our planet.