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Walter H.F. Smith

Satellite Oceanography & Climatology Division

Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry


To view Dr. Smith's publications, visit:

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photo: Walter H.F. SmithWalter H.F. Smith is a Geophysicist in NOAA's Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry and a past Chair of the scientific and technical sub-committee of GEBCO, the international and intergovernmental committee for the General Bathymetric Charts of the Oceans. Smith earned a B.Sc. at the University of Southern California, M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees at Columbia University, and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography before joining NOAA in 1992.

Dr. Smith has crossed the Pacific Ocean four times on oceanographic vessels, twice serving as Co-Chief Scientist. According to ISI Web of Science Citation Index, his papers are among the top 0.1% of papers in all fields of science; he is the most cited author in volcanology, and his papers applying altimetry to bathymetry and gravity have been cited more than 1,600 times and 1,000 times, respectively. He has also published the first altimeter measurements of tsunamis and hurricane-driven storm surge, as well as papers on the thermal history of the Earth, the volcanic history of the ocean basins, and the lubrication of plate tectonics. He is the co-founder of the Generic Mapping Tools freeware and was the Principal Investigator on "ABYSS", a four agency, twelve university proposal for a new NASA mission to map the oceans. He is currently a principal investigator on the CryoSat and GOCE missions, and has served on various ICSU, NRC and AGU committees.

Walter talks about his research mapping the oceans with satellite altimetry:

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