Long-Time Rosenstiel School Professor and Friend Claes Rooth Passes Away

Claes Rooth

MIAMI — January 25, 2011 — The University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science is saddened to announce that Professor Emeritus Claes G.H. Rooth passed away in Falmouth, Mass, on January, 17, 2011. A Finland-born physical oceanographer, he was a pioneer in the field, spending his entire professional career studying the ocean, the atmosphere and the interactions between them that are pivotal to understanding weather and climate. Rooth, who spent 38 years at the Rosenstiel School, retired in November 2006.

“Claes was a warm and wonderful person, and an absolutely brilliant scientist. Those of us that had the chance to collaborate with him will always remember his quick wit, his tremendous enthusiasm, and his ability to bring fresh perspectives to complex scientific problems,” said Professor Bill Johns, “He was revered by colleagues both here and abroad, and leaves a lasting legacy at the Rosenstiel School.”

Over his prolific career, Rooth’s research covered a wide spectrum of oceanic and atmospheric systems, with a common application of theoretical fluid mechanics as a particular point of interest. His scientific contributions helped to formulate ideas for the representation of deep ocean circulation and their simulation in global numerical models. He also studied intensive air-sea interactions and their biological impacts on coastal and open ocean settings.

“Not only did Claes excel in his own research, “ said Professor Larry Peterson, a long-time colleague and friend of Rooth’s, “but his example and words sparked the interest and research of a great number of other successful scientists in his field, including the many talented graduate students he advised while on our campus.”

Rooth was brought to Miami in 1968 by Dr. Eric Kraus, and was tasked with bolstering the School’s Atmospheric Science Institute, which was modest in comparison to the School’s Marine Science component.

“Claes, along with Eric Kraus, played a major role in the founding of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS), established in 1977 to facilitate cooperative research between the University of Miami and NOAA. Claes, with his broad and integrative grasp of the fields of atmospheric and ocean sciences, was a critical factor in the strong growth of CIMAS over the years,” said Joseph Prospero, UM Professor Emeritus and Immediate-Past Director of CIMAS.

Prior to joining the University of Miami he served as a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for two years, and spent three years at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute as an associate scientist in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics program working alongside legends in the field of oceanography.

Acclaimed scientists and researchers from various institutions attended a 2006 symposium in honor of his career. The speakers were among the world’s leading authorities in rapid climate change, weather forecasting, and ocean dynamics, many of them alumni or former faculty who studied or conducted research in conjunction with him. Speakers included: Rainer Bleck (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies), George Veronis (Yale University), James Price (Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution), Fritz Schott (University of Kiel), Jorge Sarmiento (Princeton University), and Wallace Broecker (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory).

Rooth received his M.Sc. in Physics in 1954 at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, and his Ph.D. from the University of Stockholm in 1963.

He is survived by his wife Ingrid, and children Jan, Mats and Ursula. Memorial arrangements will be announced in the coming weeks, and correspondence for the family can be forwarded to

The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

physical oceanograpy •  bill johns •  dr. eric kraus •  cimas •  dr. larry peterson •  dr. claes rooth •