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AMOS – Vale Dr Angus McEwan

Dear AMOS members,

It is with sadness that I advise you that AMOS Past President and retired Chief of the Division of Oceanography in CSIRO, Dr Angus McEwan passed away on 5 September 2018, aged 81 years.

Dr McEwan was born in Alloa, Scotland in 1937. In 1947, after the early death of his father, Dr McEwan immigrated with his mother and three brothers to Melbourne, Australia. He attended Upwey High School and then Melbourne High School finishing with a leaving certificate. Too young for university, Dr McEwan completed a diploma in engineering at Caulfield Technical School. After his National Service, he got a job at the Aeronautical Research Laboratories in Melbourne. A cadetship enabled him to extend his studies at the University of Melbourne where he graduated with a BEMech (Hons) (1960). He was then awarded a Vacuum Oil Scholarship to complete his masters, MEngSc (1962). He again went to work for the Aeronautical Research Laboratories on heat transfer problems.

A desire to change direction in his research found Dr McEwan on his way to Cambridge with a CSIRO Fellowship and, later, a Public Service Board Scholarship. He graduated with a PhD in 1966 for his work on the distortion changes in turbulence as flow goes over a step. He also worked with the legendary Sir Geoffery (‘GI’) Taylor on liquid surfaces in electric fields. Dr McEwan then returned to Australia and the Aeronautical Research Laboratories to work on hypersonic re-entry problems (1966-69). He then joined the CSIRO Division of Meteorological Physics (later Atmospheric Research) supported by a Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship (1969-71). In 1971 Dr McEwan was appointed as a senior research scientist with the task of creating a geophysical fluid dynamics laboratory within this Division (1971-81). During this period, in 1975, he was invited as a Rossby Fellow to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA where he worked on internal waves. In 1981 Dr McEwan was appointed to chief of the new CSIRO Division of Oceanography (1981-95) to be established in Hobart. Following his term as chief, he served as senior science advisor to the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. It was during this time that Dr McEwan served as the sixth President of AMOS (1998-1999).

In addition to his research, and several roles in the advancement of Australian marine science, Dr McEwan was active in the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). He served in a number of capacities including; Australian delegate to the (IOC) (1982-2004), member (1982-90) and then chairman (1987-90) of the IOC Committee on Climatic Changes and the Ocean, representative of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) steering committee (1995-2003),member (1992-99) of the Joint Scientific and Technical Committee for GCOS (Global Climate Observing System), chairman of the Intergovernmental GOOS committee (1998-2001) and chair of the Oceanographic Data Exchange Policy group (2001-02).

A detailed interview with Dr Angus McEwan, conducted by Dr Trevor McDougall in 2011, is available on the Australian Academy of Science website at https://www.science.org.au/learning/general-audience/history/interviews-australian-scientists/dr-angus-mcewan-oceanographer

Our thoughts are with his partner Elizabeth (Liz) Wood and their respective daughters and grandchildren.

A celebration of Dr McEwan’s life will take place at 12:30pm on Saturday 27 October at Turnbull Funerals, 71 Letitia Street, North Hobart.

Andrew Marshall
AMOS President

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