Elected F.R.S. 1976
From humble beginnings unconnected with the sea, Henry Charnock rose to take his place in a succession of leaders of the science of physical oceanography in Great Britain. His predecessors in this role were, from 1949 to 1971, G.E.R. (later Sir George) Deacon, F.R.S., the first director of a national institute of oceanography, and, between the World Wars, J. Proudman, F.R.S., for whom the first Chair of Physical Oceanography in this country was created at Liverpool.
Leaving aside the related disciplines of marine biology and geology, physical oceanography, more conveniently termed marine physics, embraces several sub-disciplines. Deacon applied marine chemistry to deduce the three-dimensional dynamic structure of the Southern Ocean; Proudman applied advanced mathematical analysis to the tides and normal modes of oscillation of seas and oceans. Charnock was a meteorologist, whose long-term research interest was drag-stress and momentum exchange in the turbulent flow of wind over the sea. However, like his predecessors he also had wider interests, and he helped to promote the careers of many deserving students and researchers in other branches of oceanography.