Dr. Ed Thornton is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Naval Postgraduate School, where he has worked since 1969 and a Research Adjunct Professor at MLML. He earned BS degrees from Willamette and Stanford Universities and MS degrees from Oregon State and the University of Florida, and a PhD from the University of Florida. He is a pioneer in field studies of nearshore processes, being a leader and participant in all the comprehensive nearshore experiments from 1978- 2004. Out of these studies our basic understanding of breaking wave processes, alongshore currents, rip currents, edge waves, shear instabilities, sediment transport and nearshore morphology was greatly increased. He is an active environmentalist with focus on the protection of dunes and beaches. He most recently successfully lead the stopping of sand mining by Cemex in Southern Monterey Bay. He has been recognized for his accomplishments by a number of international, national, and local awards.
He has current funded projects including participation in the Office of Naval Research Ocean Coastal Land-Sea-Air Interaction (CLASI) program during the period 2020-2025. This project seeks to develop and/or modify parameterizations for the coastal wind, momentum and heat flux variability through comprehensive experimental and modeling programs. The observations are obtained by a network of instrumented buoys and coastal, land-based towers. This data is supplemented with remotely-sensed observations from satellite, radar, aircraft and drones along with LES modeling.