2008–Michael Freilich

Michael H. Freilich is the director of the Earth Science Division, in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. Prior to joining NASA, he was a professor and associate dean in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. Dr. Freilich’s research focuses on ocean surface wind velocity measured by satellite-borne microwave radar and radiometer instruments. He served as project scientist and later as Mission principal investigator for NSCAT, a NASA mission that measured wind speeds and directions over the Earth’s ice-free oceans. He was the team leader of the NASA Ocean Vector Winds Science Team and is a member of the QuikSCAT, SeaWinds, and Terra/AMSR Validation Teams, as well as the NASDA (Japanese Space Agency) ADEOS-2 Science Team. He has been honored with the JPL Director’s Research Achievement Award (1988), the NASA Public Service Medal (1999), the American Meteorological Society’s Verner E. Suomi Award (2004), as well as several NASA Group Achievement awards. In 2004, he was named a fellow of the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Freilich received B.S. degrees in physics (Honors) and chemistry from Haverford College in 1975 and a Ph.D. in oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1982.

Looking Down on the Seas: How Satellites are Revolutionizing our Understanding of the Ocean

Satellites have fundamentally transformed the way we observe the ocean and its properties. Global measurements of sea-surface temperature, sea level, wind forcing, ocean color, and sea ice cover are obtained by satellite-borne instruments on an almost routine basis. Satellite observations have helped illuminate the ways in which ocean currents and biology respond to changes in winds and solar energy. Dr. Freilich discussed some of the satellite measurement techniques and recent scientific findings that have advanced our knowledge of the role of the oceans in the Earth’s climate system. He explored the future of satellite oceanography and the potential to forecast ocean conditions in much the same way as we forecast weather today.

Click here to view the 2008 program.


In 1999, the Ocean Studies Board (OSB) launched the Roger Revelle Commemorative Lecture to highlight the important links between ocean science and public policy. The series was named in honor of the late Roger Revelle, a leader in the field of oceanography for over 50 years who spearheaded efforts to investigate the mechanisms and consequences of climate change. In recognition of the critical importance of education in linking science and public policy, the OSB has partnered with the Smithsonian Science Education Center and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History to bring the Revelle Lecture to a broader audience. The lecture is held annually in conjunction with the OSB meeting in Washington, DC.


  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • The Office of Naval Research (ONR)
  • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • The Smithsonian Science Education Center
  • The National Museum of Natural History
  • The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation


For more information, please contact:

Kenza Sidi-Ali-Cherif
Program Assistant
Ocean Studies Board
(202) 334-3361