Richard Wanninkhof

Research Highlights

Research Interests

The transfer of carbon dioxide across the air-water interface.

Detecting changes in anthropogenic CO2 in the ocean and natural and climate induced variability on decadal time scales by repeat occupations of global ocean transects.

Ocean acidification monitoring of Gulf Coasts and East Coast.

Richard (Rik) Wanninkhof, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

4301 Rickenbacker Causeway
Miami, Florida 33149

In October 2015, NOAA selected Dr. Rik Wanninkhof to become a Senior Scientist, the highest attainable level for federal research scientists within NOAA. Rik is an internationally recognized authority on air-sea gas transfer with years of experience studying the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide on the ocean. Senior Technical Scientist positions are held by individuals who achieve national and/or international distinction in their field through their high-level research. In recognition of his exceptional scientific contributions, he was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2009.

Rik began his career at AOML in 1991 as an oceanographer with the Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division. He has conducted research on the inorganic carbon cycle, focusing on the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide by the oceans and the effects of increasing carbon dioxide levels on ocean biogeochemical cycles and ecology. Much of this research involves decadal sampling of hydrographic sections throughout the global ocean to quantify changes in the storage and transport of carbon dioxide, nutrients, fresh water, and heat. He currently leads AOML’s Ocean Carbon Group, which researches the transport and transformation of carbon in the ocean.

As a principal investigator, Rik’s work stimulated the development of entirely new field techniques for quantifying air-sea gas transfer velocity, as well as multi-investigator, international field experiments to test and apply these methods in different oceanic environments. He co-led the development of the global surface ocean observing system for the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) within NOAA, and his Ocean Carbon Group is one of the most important contributors to the global pCO2 databases.

Current Work

Senior Scientist, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

Ph.D. Chemical Oceanography Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY

  1. Bange, H.W., P. Mongwe, J.D. Shutler, D.L. Arévalo-Martínez, D. Bianchi, S.K. Lauvset, C. Liu, C.R. Löscher, H. Martins, J.A. Rosentreter, O. Schmale, T. Steinhoff, R.C. Upstill-Goddard, R. Wanninkhof, S.T. Wilson, and H. Xie. Advances in understanding of air-sea exchange and cycling of greenhouse gases in the upper ocean. Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, 12(1):00044, 2024
    Ref. 4382
  2. Fay, A.R., D.R. Munro, G. McKinley, D. Pierrot, S. Sutherland, C. Sweeney, and R. Wanninkhof. Updated climatological mean delta fCO2 and net sea-air CO2 flux over the global open ocean regions. Earth System Science Data, 16(4):2123-2139, 2024
    Ref. 4414
  3. Gomez, F.A., R. Wanninkhof, L. Barbero, and S.-K. Lee. Mississippi River chemistry impacts on the interannual variability of aragonite saturation state in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 129(2):e2023JC020436, 2024
    Ref. 4388

NOAA-Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Outstanding Paper Award 2021

For the best NOAA Research scientific paper for 2021 in the Oceans and Great Lakes category. .

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Distinguished Career Award 2021

For outstanding scientific leadership of ocean carbon cycle research in support of NOAA’s mission to understand a changing climate and support ocean health. .

IOP Award 2016

For outstanding reviews of papers submitted to the journal Environmental Research Letters that have ensured the quality and integrity of IOP’s publications. .

John Martin Award, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography 2012

For the landmark paper entitled Relationship between wind speed and gas exchange over the ocean (Wanninkhof, 1992, JGR 97(C5):7373-7382) that has had a significant impact on subsequent research in the field of oceanography. ..

Editor’s Citation for Excellence in Refereeing Award, American Geophysical Union 2011

For the development of a low-cost, open source subsurface autosampler (SAS) that eliminates barriers to water sampling and increases research capacity for all oceanographers. .

Department of Commerce Silver Medal 2009

For providing timely ocean information and capacity for improved global monitoring and management of coral reef ecosystems relative to climate change. .

Editors’ Citation for Excellence in Refereeing Award, American Geophysical Union 2008

For contributions that have been invaluable in maintaining the high standards of quality for the journal Geophysical Research Letters through the conscientious review of submitted papers.

Department of Commerce Gold Medal 2006

For 15 years of painstaking research and observations that have shown the oceans are becoming more acidic as a result of the uptake and storage of anthropogenic carbon dioxide. .

NOAA-Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Outstanding Scientific Paper Award 2003

Feely, R.A., C.L. Sabine, T. Takahashi, and R. Wanninkhof, 2001: Uptake and storage of carbon dioxide in the oceans: The global CO2 survey. Oceanography, 14(4):18-32. .

NOAA Administrator’s Award, 2002

For outstanding leadership in studying the oceanic carbon cycle and its role in sequestering carbon dioxide as part of the Ocean Atmosphere Carbon Exchange Study (OACES). .

NOAA-Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Outstanding Scientific Paper Award 2001

Wanninkhof, R.H., and W.M. McGillis, 1999: A cubic relationship between air-sea CO2 exchange and wind speed. Geophysical Research Letters, 26(13):1889-1892.

NOAA-Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Outstanding Scientific Paper Award 2000

Feely, R.A., R.H. Wanninkhof, T. Takahashi, and P. Tans, 1999: Influence of El Niño on the equatorial Pacific contribution to atmospheric CO2 accumulation. Nature, 398:597-601. .

NOAA-Environment Research Laboratories Outstanding Scientific Paper Award 1999

Peng, T.-H., R.H. Wanninkhof, J.L. Bullister, R.A. Feely, and T. Takahashi, 1998: Quantification of decadal anthropogenic CO2 uptake in the ocean based on dissolved inorganic carbon measurements. Nature, 396(10):560-563.