Faculty Profile

Bruce Parker

Phone: 703.822.3388
Email: [email protected]
School:  Schaefer School of Engineering & Science
Department:  Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering
Laboratory:  Davidson Laboratory
  • Ph.D. in physical oceanography, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 1984
  • M.S. in physical oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 1975
  • B.S./B.A. in biology and physics, Brown University, Providence, RI, 1969
  • Federal Executive Institute, OPM, Charlottesville, VA, 1995

Dr. Parker’s research presently focuses on marine prediction (including tidal analysis and prediction), climate change (with an emphasis on ice ages and sea level change), and the history of marine science. His 378-page book Tidal Analysis and Prediction (2007) summarizes much of his tidal research over the years and serves as an introductory text on the subject. His book The Power of the Sea – tsunamis, storm surges, rogue waves, and our quest to predict disasters (paperback 2012, hardcover 2010, Chinese version 2014) is a history of marine prediction that interweaves compelling stories of marine disasters with fascinating stories of how scientists very slowly learned how to predict them. Having worked in climate change some time ago (PI for the NOAA Global Sea Level Program, and Director, World Data Center for Oceanography), Dr. Parker has returned to this subject, carrying out research on the causes of glacial inception and glacial termination. Learning what begins and ends ice ages is important for a better understanding of the possible consequences of global

General Information

Professional History

  • Visiting Professor, Center for Maritime Systems/Davidson Laboratory, Stevens Institute of Technology, 2005-present
  • President, Coastal and Estuarine Solutions LLC, 2005-present.
    Chief Scientist, National Ocean Service (NOS), NOAA, 2004.
  • Director, Coast Survey Development Laboratory, NOS, NOAA, 1996-2004.
  • Chief, NOAA’s Tides & Currents Program (now CO-OPS), NOS, NOAA, 1995-1996.
  • Chief, Coastal and Estuarine Oceanography Branch, NOS, NOAA, 1993-1995.
  • Chief, Applied Research Group, Ocean and Lake Levels Div, NOS, NOAA, 1991-1993
  • Principal Investigator, NOAA Global Sea Level Program, NOAA Climate and Global Change Program, 1991-1993
  • Director, World Data Center A, Oceanography, NODC, National Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS), NOAA, 1989-1991
  • Senior Research Oceanographer, Office of Oceanography & Marine Assessment, NOS, NOAA, 1982-89
  • Chief, Analysis Section, Estuarine and Ocean Physics Br., OOMA, NOS, NOAA, 1980-1982;
  • Oceanographer, Circulatory Surveys Branch, Office of Oceanography, NOS, NOAA, 1974-1980
  • Oceanographer, Oceanographic Surveys Branch, U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, 1970-1973.
  • Oceanographer, U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office, 1969-1970.
  • Physicist, U.S. Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory, New London, CT, summer 1968.

Media Appearances

TV:  CNN, CNN International, Bloomberg TV, History Channel, Wall Street Journal TV (Internet), etc.. 

Appeared in two episodes of the History Channel program, Underwater Universe, 2011.

“When We Cannot Predict”,  Edge.org, an Edge special event, March 25, 2011.

Radio:  Bloomberg Radio, Voice of America, National Public Radio (Eclectic Café), Radio Live New Zealand, ABC Radio show with Simon Constable, Michael Smerconish Program (syndicated; 70 markets), CBS Radio & Dial Global, etc.

Newspaper and/or Web:  Wall Street Journal article (see Publications), Huffington Post article (see Publications); Edge.org article; quoted in various newspapers and online: Washington Post, Toronto Sun, PBS News Hour (online at pbs.org), etc.


Selected Publications


  • Parker, Bruce, 2012.  The Power of the Sea – tsunamis, storm surges, rogue waves, and our quest to predict disasters.  Palgrave-Macmillan, 306 pages [paperback edition; hardcover edition, 2010; Chinese edition, 2014, China Ocean Press].
  • Parker, Bruce B., 2007.   Tidal Analysis and Prediction, NOAA Special Publication NOS CO-OPS3, National Ocean Service, NOAA,378 pages. 
  • Parker, Bruce B. (Ed.),  1991.  Tidal Hydrodynamics.  John Wiley & Sons, New York, 883 pages.  (peer reviewed by 124 Reviewers).
  • Parker, Bruce B. (Ed.),  1986.  Applications of Real-Time Oceanographic Circulation Modeling,  Marine Technology Society, Washington, D.C., 345 pages.

 Selected Papers and Articles

  • Parker, Bruce, in press.  Tidal Hydrodynamics, in Encyclopedia of Estuaries, Michael J. Kennish (ed.), Springer.
  • Parker, Bruce, in press.  Tidal and Nontidal Oscillations, in Encyclopedia of Estuaries, Michael J. Kennish (ed.), Springer.
  • Parker, Bruce, 2014.  When Bathymetry Determines Who Might Live and Who Might Die, Hydro International.
  • Parker, Bruce B., 2012.  Why Did the 2011 Japan Tsunami Kill So Many People?  Huffington Post, March 11, 2012.
  • Parker, Bruce, 2011. The tide predictions for D-Day.  Physics Today, 64(9), Sept 2011, pp 35-40.
  • Parker, Bruce, 2011.  The Awesome Unpredictability of Tsunamis.  The Wall Street Journal.  March 19, 2011.
  • Parker, Bruce, 2011. How Can We Make the Public Aware of the Importance of Sea Technology?  Sea Technology, Vol. 51, Issue 12, page 89.
  • Parker, Bruce, 2009.  Tide Prediction in Colonial America, Hydro International, pp 28-31, May 2009.
  • Parker, Bruce B., 2004.  Tides.  In: Encyclopedia of Coastal Science, (ed.) M. Schwartz, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series.
  • Parker, Bruce B., 2003.  The difficulties in measuring a consistently defined shoreline –  the problem of vertical referencing.  Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue 38:44-56.
  • Parker, B., K. Hess, D. Milbert, and S. Gill, 2003.  A National Vertical Datum Transformation Tool.  Sea Technology, 44(9):1-15.
  • Zhang, Aijun, Eugene Wei, and Bruce B. Parker,  2003. Optimal estimation of tidal open boundary conditions using predicted tides and adjoint data assimilation technique.  Continental Shelf Research, 23:1055-1070.
  • Zhang, Aijun, Bruce B. Parker, and Eugene Wei, 2002.  Assimilation of water level data into a coastal hydrodynamic model by an adjoint optimal technique.  Continental Shelf Research, 22:1909-1934.
  • Parker, Bruce, 2002.  The integration of bathymetry, topography, and shoreline and the vertical datum transformations behind it.  International Hydrographic Review, vol.3, no.3(New Series), pp 35-47, Nov 2002.
  • Parker, Bruce B., 2002.  Integrated real-time/forecast information for safe, efficient, and environmentally-friendly ports, Singapore Maritime and Port Journal, pp 1-10.
  • Parker, Bruce, 2001.  Where is the shoreline?   Hydro International,  July/August 2001,  pages 6-9.
  • Parker, Bruce B., (1996-2000).  "Physical Oceanography" column in the Mariners Weather Log, published quarterly by the National Weather Service, NOAA.
    [also reprinted inMeteorologisch Informatienbulletin Maritiem (Netherlands), Met Mar (France), Wetterlotse (Germany), The Marine Observer (United Kingdom), and Ocean Navigator Magazine (USA)] 
    Ten articles:   Motion In the Ocean;  The Ocean’s Ups and Downs;  Coastal Currents;  Ocean Currents: Not Really Like Rivers In the Sea;  The Coriolis Effect: Motion On a Rotating Planet;  Why Are the Tides So Predictable?;   How Does the Wind Generate Waves?;  Waves Beneath the Sea;  Tides In Shallow Water;  The Perfect Storm Surge.
  • Glenn, S.M., T.D. Dickey, B. Parker, and W. Boicourt, 2000. Long-term Real-time Coastal Ocean Observation Networks, Oceanography, 13(1).
  • Glenn, S.M., W.Boicourt, B. Parker, and T.D. Dickey, 2000. Operational Observation Networks for Ports, a Large Estuary and an Open Shelf, Oceanography, 13(1).
  • Parker, Bruce B., Alan Davies, and Jiuxing Xing, 1999. Tidal Height and Current Prediction.  Chapter 12 in: Coastal Ocean Prediction, Christopher N.K. Mooers (Ed.), Coastal and Estuarine Studies, 56, pages 277-327, AGU Publications, Washington, D.C., (refereed book).
  • Parker, Bruce B. and Lloyd C. Huff, 1999.  Managing under-keel clearance, Proceedings of the Marine Safety Council, 56(4):51-56.       
  • Parker, Bruce B. and Lloyd C. Huff, 1998.  Modern under-keel clearance management.  International Hydrographic Review, LXXV(2):143-165.
  • Parker, Bruce B., 1998.  Development of Model-Based Regional Nowcasting/ Forecasting Systems.  In: Spaulding, M.L. and A.F. Blumberg (Eds.),  Estuarine and Coastal Modeling, American Society of Civil Engineers, New York,  refereed proceedings of the 5th International Conference, Alexandria, VA, pp 355-373.
  • Parker, Bruce B., 1996.  Monitoring and modeling of coastal waters in support of environmental preservation.  Journal of Marine Science and Technology, 1(2):75-84.
  • Parker, Bruce B., 1996.  Predicting water levels and currents in coastal waters. Journal of Marine Education, 13(4):18-21.
  • Crawford J.E., M.J. Cruickshank, R. Smolowitz, J.C. Wiltshire, J.F. Bash, and B. Parker, 1996.  State of Technology Report -- Marine Resources.  Marine Technology Society Journal, 30(2):50-57.
  • Parker, Bruce B., 1995.  PORTS makes navigation safer.  Proceedings of the Marine Safety Council, 52(5):30-2, Sept-Oct, 1995.
  • Parker, Bruce B., 1994.  Real-time oceanographic data for ports.  Mariners Weather Log, Summer 1994, pages 12-15.
  • Parker, Bruce B., 1994.  Sea level variability along the East Coast of the United States.  In: Studies In Eastern Energy and the Environment, AAPG Eastern Section Special Volume, (Eds.) A.P. Schultz and E.K. Rader, Virginia Div. of Mineral Resources Publication 132, pp 66-72.
  • Parker, Bruce B., 1992.  Oceanographic data archaeology: Finding historical data for climate and global change research.  Oceanography, 5(2):124-5.  
  • Parker, B.B., R.E. Cheney, and W.E. Carter, 1992.  NOAA Global Sea Level Program.  Sea Technology. 33(6):55-62.
  • Parker, Bruce B., 1992.  Sea level as an indicator of climate and global change.  The Marine Technology Society Journal.  25(4):13-24.   [Reprinted in:  Oceanography - Contemporary Readings in Ocean Sciences, 3rd Edition, Oxford University Press, 1994]
  • Parker, Bruce B., 1991.  The relative importance of the various nonlinear mechanisms in a wide rage of tidal interactions. In: Tidal Hydrodynamics, pages 237-268, John Wiley & Sons, New York (refereed book).
  • Parker, Bruce B., 1991.  On the use of nonharmonic tidal analyses and their effect on the quality of subordinate station predictions.  In: Tidal Hydrodynamics, pages 771-788, John Wiley & Sons, New York (refereed book).
  • Parker, Bruce B., 1990.  The importance of frictional nonlinear effects on the tidal dynamics of the Delaware River and Bay, In: Physics of Shallow Seas, (Ed.) Wang Huatong, Wang Jingyong, and Dai Hua, pages 167-187, China Ocean Press, Beijing, China, (refereed book). 
  • Parker, Bruce B. 1988.  An atlas for forecasting circulation and water levels.  Sea Technology, 29(8): 21-25.
  • Parker, Bruce B.  1986.  Applications of real-time oceanographic data systems, The Marine Technology Society Journal, 20(3):18-27.

Selected National and Interagency Committees

  • NOAA Liaison to the Marine Board of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Science, 1998-2004.
  • Chair of the Research and Technology (R&T) Subcommittee for the Interagency Committee for the Marine Transportation System (ICMTS) [representing 18 federal agencies], 2000-2004
  • Chair of the Research and Development (R&D) Subcommittee of the Interagency Waterways Management Committee (ICWWM) [representing 8 Federal agencies], 1997-1999.
  • Member of the Advisory Board for the Center for Maritime Systems, Stevens Institute of Technology, 2002-2004.
  • Member, Tidal Hydraulics Technical Committee of ASCE, 1996-1998.
  • Chair of the Physical Oceanography and Meteorology Committee of the Marine Technology Society, 1985-1995.
  • Member, Interagency Committee on Coastal Physical Processes (ICCPP), at the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE),  1992-1997.
  • Member, Ocean Data Management Committee (ODMAC) at the Joint Oceanographic Institutions, 1989-1994.

Selected International Organizations and Activities

  • Member, People’s Republic of China-U.S. Joint Coordination Panel for Data and Information Exchange.  1991-2004.
  • Member, United States-Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resources (UJNR) Sea-Bottom Surveys Panel, 1999-2004.
  • Member, FIG (International Federation of Surveyors) Working Group 4.2 (Vertical Reference Frame) 2003-2004.
  • Member, Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS) committee, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), 1992-2004.
  • International Hydrographic Organization – worked with various IHO Committees; also received the Commodore Cooper Medal for best scientific paper on hydrography or related fields (voted on by 110 IHO members around the world), May 2000.
  • As Principal Investigator for the NOAA Global Sea Level Program, coordinated joint projects with many nations, 1991-1993.
  • Director of the World Data Center A for Oceanography, 1989-1991.
  • Member, Panel on International Programs and International Cooperation in Ocean Affairs (PIPICO), chaired by State Dept., 1990-94.
  • Responsible for U.S. exchange of official tide predictions with 30 other nations, 1991-1996.
  • In charge of U.S. delegation to the 13th Meeting of the IOC/IODE , United Nations, 1990.
  • Involved in numerous bilaterals, international panels, meetings, workshops, and conferences.

Selected Activities in Organization of Research Conferences

  • Member, Organizing Committee for the Gordon Research Conference on Coastal Ocean Modeling, 2003.
  • Chair, Organizing Committee for the Marine Transportation System Research and Technology Conference, held at the National Academies of Science, 2001,
  • Chair, Organizing Committee, Federal Waterways R&D Coordination Conference, held at the National Academies of Science, Washington, D.C., 1999 and 1997.
  • Member, Planning Committee for the International Symposium on Marine Positioning, INSMAP’98, 1998.
  • Member, Program Committee for the AGU/ASLO Ocean Sciences meeting, Feb 1996. 
  • Organizer of the International Oceanographic Data Archaeology Workshop, Washington, DC, 1990.
  • Chair, Steering Committee, and Technical Program Director, International Conference On Tidal Hydrodynamics, held at National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 1988.
  • Chair, Steering Committee, and Technical Program Director, Symposium On Real-Time Oceanographic Circulation Modeling, held at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, 1985.
  • Organized technical sessions at numerous conferences over the years (for MTS, IEEE, AMS,  ASME, AGU, Coast Zone, etc.).

Selected Educational Activities

  • Participated in the establishment of cooperative institutes, such as the NOAA-UNH Joint Hydrographic Center of Excellence, the Global Sea Level Center at Florida State, and the Sea Level Center at the University of Hawaii
  • Served as thesis advisor and on thesis committees for graduate students, including a PhD student at Institute of Oceanology, Qingdao, 2000.
  • Instructor (in numerical modeling), George Washington University, 1989.
  • Taught in-house courses at NOAA on oceanography, tides, time series analysis, modeling, etc.
  • In educational shows on the History Channel (2011), Weather Channel (2004),  Discovery Channel (2002), etc..
  • Educational articles, including in the Journal of Marine Education, and regular Physical Oceanography column in Mariners Weather Log (reprinted in 4 countries in Europe).
  • Worked with National Geographic Society on 4 educational projects for kids.
  • Contributed to the Maury Project sponsored by U.S. Naval Academy.
Honors & Awards
  • Department of Commerce Gold Medal for Scientific Leadership, 2000.
  • Department of Commerce Silver Medal for Scientific Achievement (group award), 2003.
  • Commodore Cooper Medal, International Hydrographic Organization, 2000.
  • NOAA Bronze Medal for Scientific/Engineering Achievement, 1987.
Professional Societies
  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Meteorological Society
  • Oceanography Society
  • Marine Technology Society