John Harvey obituary

Other lives: Expert in ocean physics who was a keen climber

My friend and colleague John Harvey, who has died aged 80, was not only an expert in ocean physics, but also a keen climber and outdoor activity leader.

In 1968 John was among the first group of lecturers in the interdisciplinary school of environmental sciences at the recently established University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich. There he taught physical oceanography to generations of students.

He wrote a remarkable book, Atmosphere and Ocean: Our Fluid Environments (1976), which was ahead of its time in introducing students to the idea that the two should not be studied as single subjects, but needed to be viewed as interacting parts of the global system.

He carried out expert research into the circulation of the North Atlantic, which showed how Atlantic water masses could be identified by their temperature and salinity characteristics. Some regarded this as a rather traditional approach, but within a decade it was back in vogue in interpreting the findings of the major international global survey carried out as part of the World Ocean Circulation Experiment.

He was brought up in Irby on the Wirral peninsula by his parents, Eddie Harvey, a manager’s secretary with the Blue Funnel Line shipping company, and his wife, Marjorie (nee Ward), a teacher. After attending Dawpool school and then Birkenhead school, John studied geography at Liverpool University, and then took a job as a physical oceanographer at the Fisheries Laboratory (now Cefas) in Lowestoft, Suffolk.

After a few years he was appointed a lecturer at the Marine Science Laboratories on Anglesey, a part of the then University College of North Wales, Bangor (now Bangor University), where I first met him while participating in a summer school on oceanography that he was teaching. He inspired me to take up a career in marine science.

In 1989 John took early retirement from UEA to embark on another challenge, leading outdoor activity holidays (mountaineering, navigation and sailing), with his wife, Chris, from the centre they established overlooking Loch Lomond. They both also led walking holidays in Europe and John additionally led some bridge and skiing holidays.

John was an accomplished hill walker and climber, having scaled all 282 of the Munro mountains in Scotland, completing the challenge in 2003. He was also a keen sailor and, again with Chris, circumnavigated the British Isles.

On their return to East Anglia in 2004, to Brooke in south Norfolk, John was an active and enthusiastic orienteer who liked to enthuse others. Latterly he assisted with running local health walks.

During the last decade of his life John suffered from myeloma and faced its treatment with typical fortitude.

He is survived by Chris (nee Evans), whom he married in 1961, their sons, Robert and Michael, and grandchildren, Kate and David.

Peter Liss

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
John Langdon obituary
Other lives: Influential figure in Scottish music for 50 years

Hilary Tyrrell

07, Mar, 2019 @4:14 PM

Article image
John Kay obituary
Other lives: Political organiser and activist who stood for parliament four times as a Communist party candidate

Jackie Kay

09, Feb, 2020 @5:21 PM

Article image
John Waterhouse obituary
Other lives: Psychiatrist who worked at the Crichton Royal hospital, Dumfries,

Debby Hamilton

29, Nov, 2019 @5:48 PM

Article image
Roger Sales obituary
Other lives: First professor of English studies at the University of East Anglia

Jessica Smith

19, May, 2022 @9:54 AM

Article image
Colin Adams obituary
Other lives: Journalist and broadcaster who became controller of drama at the BBC

Caro Millington

25, May, 2022 @4:50 PM

Article image
Kevin Molloy obituary
Other lives: Expert on drug rehabilitation and harm reduction who had experienced the ravages of addiction himself

Jon Derricott

19, Aug, 2021 @7:16 PM

Article image
Sue Bailey obituary
Other lives: Expert in child protection at the University of East Anglia and a passionate fan of Norwich City FC

Frances Bailey

19, Jun, 2023 @9:56 AM

Article image
Caroline Gilfillan obituary
Other lives: Poet and writer who explored feminist themes, including with the all-female 1970s band the Stepney Sisters

Heather De Lyon

31, Oct, 2023 @5:19 PM

Article image
Vic Nierop-Reading obituary
Other lives: Architect who specialised in preserving the old buildings of Norwich and Norfolk

Jane Sargant

20, Nov, 2022 @5:32 PM

Article image
John Harbottle obituary
Other lives: Mud engineer whose expertise took him to drilling sites around the world

Charlie Duncan

10, Aug, 2020 @4:54 PM