Molly Baringer

Molly Baringer, Ph.D.

Acting Director, NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory 

Phone Number: 305.361.4345

Dr. Molly Baringer is a veteran sea-going oceanographer and has led numerous research projects during her 22-year tenure at AOML. Her research portfolio is strongly rooted in the Atlantic Ocean, linking ocean circulation patterns and changes to global and regional climate patterns. She skillfully manages research teams and projects, and forges partnerships with national and international research institutions, including the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Environmental Research Council in the UK, among others, to bring AOML science to bear.

Molly’s research expertise includes measuring the strength of the Western Boundary Current in the North Atlantic, monitoring the meridional overturning circulation in the North Atlantic as part of the RAPID/MOCH program, managing high-density XBT observations in the Atlantic, and leading repeat hydrography and coastal carbon dioxide surveys. Molly has served in leadership roles on more than 29 hydrographic programs since 1998, including the role of chief scientist on more than a dozen of these cruises.

Molly’s scientific leadership extends well beyond the ship’s helm. Molly has served on more than 21 national and international panels including as secretary of the Physical Oceanography Section of the American Meteorological Society and the International Argo Panel, regularly providing advice and direction on national science policy and program management, including stakeholder negotiations. 

Molly received her doctoral degree in 1994 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the field of physical oceanography. Molly is also a graduate of NOAA’s Leadership Competency Development Program and the National Weather Service’s Building Leaders for a Solid Tomorrow (BLAST) program. Molly also served as AOML’s acting deputy director in 2010, during the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, skillfully managing resources to support AOML’s scientific response.

Molly has published over 80 peer-reviewed publications in journals such as Science, the Journal of Climate, and the Journal of Geophysical Research, to name a few. Over the past ten years she has also served as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on numerous externally funded research programs totaling more than $30 million. She is also the recipient of the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal award for her role on the Western Boundary Time Series Team.

Current Work

Acting Director, NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

1985, B.S., Mathematics, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA

1994, Ph.D., Physical Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Joint Program, Cambridge, MA

  1. Hooper, J.A., M.O. Baringer, and R.H. Smith. Hydrographic measurements collected aboard the NOAA Ship Ronald H Brown, 3-18 December 2019: Western Boundary Time Series cruise AB1912 (RB1907). NOAA Data Report, OAR-AOML-86, 207 pp., 2023
    Ref. 4325
  2. Hooper, J.A., M.O. Baringer, and R.H. Smith. Hydrographic measurements collected in 2021 during Western Boundary Time Series cruises in the Florida Current aboard the UNOLS Ship R/V F.G. Walton Smith (FC2104, FC2105). NOAA Data Report, OAR-AOML-87, 84 pp., 2023
    Ref. 4326
  3. Lee, S.-K., R. Lumpkin, F. Gomez, S. Yeager, H. Lopez, F. Tagklis, S. Dong, W. Aguiar, D. Kim, and M. Baringer. Human-induced changes in the global meridional overturning circulation are emerging from the Southern Ocean. Communications Earth & Environment, 4:69, 2023
    Ref. 4237

2022 NOAA Administrator’s Award

For outstanding advances in the U.S. ocean observing and processing of biogeochemical Argo float data, leading to a new era of global oceanography. 

2022 Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Corporate Innovation Award

For innovation in large-scale autonomous observations in oceanography with global impacts in marine and climate science and technology. 

2021 Oceanographic Society Ocean Observing Team Award (RAPID-MOCHA-WBTS-26°N Team)

For transforming understanding of Atlantic circulation with a breakthrough in observing system design, providing continuous, cost-effective measurements.

2018 NOAA Administrator’s Award

For outstanding success of the U.S. Argo ocean observing program, providing excellent oceanographic data that has led to a new era of oceanography.

2016 U.S. Department of Commerce Silver Medal

For being members of a Department of Commerce team that successfully developed and awarded five extremely complex, long-term, and alternatively-financed energy contracts valued at $138 million. 

2016 U.S. Department of Commerce Energy and Environmental Stewardship Award (Lean, Clean, Green category)

For successfully developing and awarding over $138 million in alternative-financed energy savings performance contracts, yielding over $5 million annually in cost savings. 

2013 NOAA/OAR Employee of the Year

For efforts to improve the quality of drifter data by developing a new methodology that evaluates when drifters have lost their drogues.

2009 U.S. Department of Bronze Medal (x3)

For (1) developing the research-to- operation transition of Climate Sea Surface Temperature Observing System monitoring, (2) exceptional service as author of the NOAA/Smithsonian publication “Hidden Depths: Atlas of the Ocean”, and (3) remarkable contributions and original concepts in the design and leverage of the Smithsonian’s Sant Ocean Hall.

Recipient of Ministère des Affaires Etrangères fellowship from French government, 1998—1999