Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Dr. Alberto Mestas-Nuñez

An Outstanding Islander

Outline photo of Dr. Alberto Mestas-Nuñez

Ocean in Motion

Dr. Alberto Mestas-Nuñez traveled from Argentina to Oregon with dreams of pursuing postgraduate studies in oceanography. But it was his fascination with the ocean that led him to Corpus Christi. Since 2006, the Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences and Physical Oceanography has provided his expertise to students and faculty of the Island University.

Prior to teaching undergraduate and graduate students at the University, Mestas-Nuñez worked with other scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS), a cooperative institute between the University of Miami and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/Atlantic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML), which is where his interest in climate developed.

“I was captivated by ocean currents and how waves were formed and propagated,” he said. “It is about more than just marine biology, but understanding how the ocean works, studying its movements, changes in its thermal structure, and how it interacts with the atmosphere.”

Mestas-Nuñez and his research collaborators have contributed to the understanding of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, a climate cycle with center of action in the Atlantic but with worldwide climate impacts. They examined over a century of historical surface temperature observations of the Atlantic Ocean and found that there are more major storms when ocean temperatures are warmer and less major storms when ocean temperatures are colder. This finding affects many environmental factors such as the amount of rainfall the United States receives.

Locally, Mestas-Nuñez and collaborators conducted a recent study on Padre Island dunes using sand-dune cores to estimate past storm activity over the Gulf and how it relates to climate fluctuations. He has also been sought out by media for his insight on global patterns of El Niño and the effects of South Texas rainfall on area water resources.

After earning his Bachelor of Science in Oceanography at the Instituto Technológico de Buenos Aires in Argentina, Mestas-Nuñez received both his Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in Physical Oceanography at Oregon State University. He has also published numerous articles on related topics.

“My research on how the ocean, atmosphere, and land play major roles in determining climate variability and change has led me on an exciting journey,” he said.
 
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