Shop Windows to the Universe

Dig into Montana Before History: 11K Years of Hunter-Gatherers in the Rockies and Plains by D. H. MacDonald, Ph.D. See our online store book collection.
This is a photograph of Vagn Ekman, Swedish oceanographer, 1874-1954.
Click on image for full size
Image is in Public Domain

Vagn Walfrid Ekman

Vagn Walfrid Ekman was born in Sweden on May 3, 1874. He was an oceanographer who is best known for studying how the Coriolis force affects ocean currents. Originally, he was interested in trying to understand why icebergs do not drift in the direction of the prevailing wind. He found out this was due to the Coriolis force.

Ekman’s theory of how wind causes movement of water near the ocean surface, and how the movement of one water layer affects lower layers, has been expanded by many oceanographers in the past century. So the overall process of wind causing the movement of water near the surface of the ocean has come to be called Ekman transport. When Ekman transport occurs near a coast, it can create an upwelling of nutrient-rich water from the deeper layers of the ocean, and this creates a region that is very good for ocean life.

Ekman made other key contributions to oceanography, including a study of how the fresh water from melting icebergs could slow or stop ships (this is called ‘dead water’). He also invented several important instruments and some of his inventions are still in use today.

Besides his great interest in oceans, Ekman was very interested in music. He was known to be a very good singer, pianist and even composer!

He passed away on March 9, 1954.

Last modified September 10, 2008 by Jennifer Bergman.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books on science education!

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms

What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, school administrators need to know to create and support such experiences?...more

Earth's Ocean

Earth's ocean covers more than 70% of our planet's surface. There are five major ocean basins. The Pacific Ocean is the largest. It’s so large that it covers a third of the Earth's surface. The Atlantic...more

How the Ocean Surface Moves: Ekman Transport

An explorer from Norway named Fridtjof Nansen froze his ship into the Arctic sea ice in 1893. He did this on purpose. He thought that trapped in sea ice, which moves with ocean currents, he would get to...more

Florence Bascom

Florence Bascom was one of the first female geologists in the United States and her fellow scientists thought she was one of the nation’s most important geologists. She lived from 1862 until 1945 and...more

Niels Bohr

Niels Bohr was a Danish physicist who lived between 1885-1962. He investigated atomic structure, modifying Rutherford's old model of an atom. Bohr also claimed that an atom's chemical properties are determined...more

Marie Curie

Marie Curie was a physicist and chemist who lived between 1867-1934. She contributed greatly to our understanding of radioactivity and the effects of x-rays. She was born Maria Skłodowska in Warsaw,...more

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was a German physicist who lived between 1879-1955. Probably the most well-known scientist of the twentieth century, Einstein came up with many original theories and invented modern physics....more

Robert Goddard

Robert Goddard was an American physicist who lived between 1882-1945. He was a pioneer of modern rocketry who discovered that liquid fuel is more efficient than solid fuel. Although Goddard's first rocket...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA