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In Memoriam

Aug 8, 2017
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Berger
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Berger

Prof. Ph.D. Dr. h.c.Wolfgang H. Berger of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, Cal., USA, died unexpectedly on 6 August 2017 at the age of 79.


Wolfgang Berger was one of the most distinguished marine geoscientists in the world and a cofounder of the new discipline of “paleoceanography”. His pioneering and innovative work opened up completely new possibilities for the use of deep-sea sediments in paleoclimate reconstructions.

Following the establishment of the Department of Geosciences at the University of Bremen in 1986, Wolfgang Berger worked for many years as a guest professor in Bremen. Through this cooperative work the Collaborative Research Centre on the History of the South Atlantic was jointly developed, and was funded by the German Research Foundation from 1989 to 2000. The successful work on the Collaborative Research Centre was the basis for approval of the Research Center “Ocean Margins” by the German Research Foundation in the year 2000. Through his extensive experience and detailed knowledge, Wolfgang Berger contributed to the development of this highly prestigious research sponsorship, which was also significant in promoting the establishment of MARUM. For his service in the development of the marine research profile of the Department of Geosciences, Wolfgang Berger was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Bremen in 2011.

A large share of the more than 250 publications by Wolfgang Berger were produced in cooperation with the University of Bremen, for example, on the history of the biological productivity of the ocean. Many of the paleoceanographic works are based on expeditions of the Research Vessel METEOR in the South Atlantic and of the JOIDES Resolution to the continental slope off Angola and Namibia (ODP Leg 175). An additional focus of his work in Bremen was related to climate variability in recent centuries as reconstructed from corals from Bermuda.

Wolfgang Berger was a distinguished interdisciplinary research scientist who significantly helped in shaping the field of paleoceanography over several decades through his endless power of innovation, and thereby provided an essential stimulus to the development of geosciences at the University of Bremen. We will miss him greatly and will hold him always in our memory as a treasured colleague and friend.

Gerold Wefer, MARUM, in the name of his Bremen cooperative partners and friends.

Scripps' Orbituary Note