Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society

Professor Michael Fasham played a pioneering role in the development of marine ecosystem models for the study of nutrient and carbon cycling in the ocean. He is particularly celebrated for his famous Fasham–Ducklow–McKelvie model, which was the first of its kind to separate new and regenerated forms of nutrient, as well as including microbial recycling pathways. Fasham's models provided key understanding of the links between primary production, carbon cycling and export (of organic matter from the surface to deep ocean) based on both deep and insightful parameterization inspired by his many collaborations with leading experimental and field biologists of the day, and by his expert use of data for model calibration and validation. He had the ability to see the big picture, linking observation and models to achieve a unified understanding of system dynamics. As well as the direct contributions of his own science, Fasham played a pivotal role in steering the international scientific agenda, notably his leadership of the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study which had the aim of understanding ocean carbon cycling and sinks via the coordination of extensive field programmes, synthesis and modelling. He will be remembered by those who knew him for his openness, enthusiasm and modesty, a man who was fun to know and to work with and who loved the thrill of scientific adventure and discovery.