Işıkara was born 1941 in Mersin. In 1947 he went to primary school and in 1954 to junior highschool in Mersin. After finishing high school in Mersin, he studied in İstanbul University graduating in 1965. In the same year, he began his academic career as an geophysics assistant at the Faculty of Science. He continued his studies in Imperial College London and University of Göttingen.
Ahmet Mete Işıkara married in 1969 to Aysel Ahıska, the daughter of singer Necmi Rıza Ahıska. From this marriage, son Cengiz and daughter Yeşim were born.
Up to 1976 Işıkara studied on the terrestrial magnetism. Between 1976-1983 he served as the chairman of the Turkish National Geodesy and Geophysics Association and as well as the Aeronomy Commission between 1976-1983.
From 1979 to 1982, he was the coordinator of the European Workgroup for Earthquake Prediction, and in the years 1980-1983 he represented Turkey in the Earthquake Specialists Committee of the Council of Europe.
In 1985, he entered Boğaziçi University, and was appointed assistant director of Earthquake Research Center of Kandilli Observatory. In 1991, he became director of the observatory, and served at this post until 2002.
Following the 1999 İzmit earthquake, he repeatedly addressed people on television to create awareness for protection and safety during earthquakes. In this period, he earned the nickname Deprem Dede (English: Grandpa Earthquake). His quote "Quakes don’t kill, buildings do." became famous.
In 2003, he was appointed chairman of the newly established Association of Preparation for Disaster and Training for Earthquake (Turkish: Afete Hazırlık ve Deprem Eğitimi Derneği (AHDER)). Işıkara was last serving as the head consultant of the Turkish Red Crescent.
Işıkara tried to enter politics in the 2002 general elections, running for a seat in the parliament from the True Path Party (DYP). According to election system of Turkey, parties which fail to receive less than 10% of all votes are not qualified to gain seats in the parliament. In the 2002 elections, DYP received slightly less than 10% and Işıkara was not able to enter the parliament.
Ahmet Mete Işıkara died on 21 January 2013 due to respiratory insufficiency in a hospital in Istanbul, where he was treated since 44 days in the intensive care unit. He was laid to rest at the Feriköy Cemetery, Istanbul.
In Mersin a primary school is named after him