Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Physical Oceanography
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Nelson Hogg and Bob Tavares in the Float Technical Operations Group lab. These floats will be among the 3,000 deployed in the worldwide ARGO float progam, to measure various upper ocean properties in the North and South Atlantic. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, WHOI Graphic Services)
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» Physical Oceanography Department

» Edge of the Arctic Shelf Arctic West Summer 2004

» Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project

» Spray Glider

» Peter Winsor

Research in the Physical Oceanography Department centers on the description and understanding of the evolving state of the ocean and its interaction with the atmosphere and Earth. While we have traditionally identified ourselves with making observations at sea, our scientists also make important contributions to numerical modeling, theory, laboratory experimentation, and instrument development.

The last year, once again, has been a busy one at sea. Bob Pickart completed the field phases of two programs, his study of deep convection in the Irminger Sea off the east coast of Greenland and his investigation of the stability of the inflowing Pacific water current along the south coast of the Beaufort Sea. Nearby, Andrey Proshutinsky expanded his array of moored profilers and current meters in the Beaufort Gyre. Across the Pacific, off Japan, Nelson Hogg and Steve Jayne began their study of the Kuroshio Extension Current by installing an array of moored profilers stretching 500 kilometers (300 miles) across the current. Also in 2004, John Toole and colleagues here and in the U.K. began a multi-year Station W program to investigate interannual variations of the poleward flowing Gulf Stream and equatorward flow beneath. A related effort undertaken by Terry Joyce was a hydrographic section from Cape Cod to Bermuda. In addition, Fiamma Straneo installed a mooring in the Hudson Strait to measure freshwater efflux. Surface moorings that measure air-sea fluxes were replaced in the Atlantic (Al Plueddemann) and the Pacific (Bob Weller), and a third air-sea flux site was established off Hawaii. The intent of this program is to provide accurate fluxes in order to ground truth those obtained indirectly, particularly by satellites.

This year we also put some new technology to its first scientific use. The maiden “flight” of an undersea autonomous glider, Spray, was carried out in November from south of Cape Cod to Bermuda under the direction of Breck Owens and colleagues at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. During its seasaw flight, it collected temperature and salinity data from the surface to a depth of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet), thus duplicating what could be done from a ship but more quickly and at lower cost. A new mooring system, called Ultramoor, was installed at Bob Pickart’s Irminger Sea site. It has been developed by Dan Frye, Nelson Hogg, and others and has the goals of lasting five years and sending data back to shore through the periodic release of data-containing capsules, which send their recorded data back to the lab via satellite. The first capsule was released and the data recovered on schedule Thanksgiving Day.

Continuing our expanding interest in the Arctic, Peter Winsor joined the staff as assistant scientist early in the year. Peter’s interests focus on Arctic oceanography and he has talents in seagoing observation, data interpretation, and numerical modeling.

Before his appointment to the scientific staff Peter had been a postdoctoral scholar working with Dave Chapman. It is with great sorrow that I report that Dave lost his fight with cancer during the summer. Funds are being solicited for a memorial and to endow a lecture series on coastal oceanography. In a tragic motorcycle accident, the department also lost a talented young seagoing technician, Ryan Schrawder. A fund has also been established in his name to make an annual award to a similarly skilled employee at the institution’s annual employee recognition ceremony.

—Nelson Hogg (nhogg@whoi.edu)
Department Chair

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