I met Peter several years ago. The last time that we socialized together was on August 2009 in Honolulu at a dinner with several scientists working on the Philippine Archipelago. He was visiting colleagues in Hawaii and joined us for dinner. We all had great time exploring wines, food and talking about ocean observational programs. He was a great story teller and had great insight and memories about many observational programs. My deepest condolences to his family. He will be missed indeed.
Tony Haymet, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Director, on October 15, 2010 wrote: I want to express my sadness and the heartfelt sadness of all at Scripps upon learning of the death today of Peter Niller.
Peter's early understanding of the linkage between ocean circulation and the world’s climate has been a catalyst for improved global ocean observations. He spent decades designing ocean buoys for measuring direct circulation flow and other instruments for ocean observations. One of his more clever designs was an ocean drifting measurement device he called the holey sock. His detection of ocean gyres using satellites confirmed a theory advanced by Harald Sverdrup 60 years earlier and anticipated the discovery of what has become known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific Gyre. He detected the presence of an even larger gyre in the southern Pacific Ocean and was involved in preliminary planning for a research expedition there.
Peter also served as an adviser to the respondents to the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, having deployed a network of drifters there a decade earlier. His attention to detail and precision in all that he did was a trademark known to all who worked with him, and his legacy will be felt around the world. He was an unrelenting advocate for international collaboration and cooperation. In his personal life, Peter carried his eye for detail as a master builder who designed several homes for his family around the country, including three in San Diego. He was currently involved in several plans and projects for increased ocean observations and his untimely passing will have a large impact on the ocean community far and wide.
Our deepest condolences to Peter's wife, Nancy, and to his family. He will be greatly missed.