The U.S. Navy plays a huge role in global environmental monitoring and prediction, ranging from taking observations in the world’s oceans and monitoring Arctic sea ice, to running highly sophisticated numerical models of the atmosphere and ocean. If anything ever happened to the National Weather Service’s weather prediction models, the U.S. Navy stands ready as an immediate backup.
The crucial role of Navy meteorology and oceanography was a reason I jumped at the offer of interviewing Navy Rear Admiral John Okon, who holds the role of Oceanographer of the Navy, putting him in charge of the vast Navy environmental enterprise. Admiral Okon was going to come to Seattle for Seafair/Fleet Week, but COVID-19 cancelled those plans.
But even with Seafair cancelled, Admiral Okon still wanted to reach out to Northwest residents and so he agreed to this interview, in which we discussed a number of weather and ocean issues over roughly twenty minutes. Please check out the video below if you would like to learn about the U.S. Navy’s role in environmental prediction and even the potential jobs in working on these tasks.
Just a little background about Admiral Okon. He received a B.S. in meteorology and oceanography from the N.Y Maritime College, followed by a master’s degree in meteorology and physical meteorology from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, with his adviser being Dr. Wendell Nuss, a graduate of the UW. So he has a strong UW Husky connection.
Later he served as meteorologist and oceanographer aboard two aircraft carriers, followed by a series of increasingly responsible command posts including running the Navy’s modeling center in Monterey, followed by taking on the key post of Navy oceanographer.
My conversation with him ranged from high-tech ocean observing systems (e.g., like the seagliders that can stay underwater for months) to the challenges of cybersecurity of weather modeling systems.
More information on U.S. Navy meteorology and oceanography can be found here.