Carlos Moffat


Ph.D. conferred in Summer of 2007 from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Physical Oceanography

Brief Education background:
University of Concepción, Marine Biology, 1998

Advisor/WHOI lab or group:
Advisor(s): Dr. Robert C. Beardsley
and Dr. Breck Owens, Physical Oceanography Department.

Project/Focus Title:
My thesis research, titled 'Coastal Circulation on the west Antarctic Peninsula', is aimed at understanding the circulation of the coastal ocean of the shelf west of the Antarctic Peninsula, as part of the Southern Ocean Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (SO GLOBEC) program.

As part of a multidisciplinary program, my research fits into a broader objective of describing the unique set of processes that contribute to the rich biological community found in the study region. For example, I am studying the Antarctic Peninsula Coastal Current (APCC), a buoyant coastal plume that we first described using the SO GLOBEC dataset. The APCC appears to be a dominant part of the coastal circulation in this area, and may play a critical role in help make the Marguerite Bay such a rich and productive ecosystem.   

Related NOAA Strategic Plan Goal:
Goal 2. Understand climate variability and change to enhance society’s ability to plan and respond.

Activity Report
During the 2006, I examined the SO GLOBEC data set, which includes two broad-scale conductivity, temperature and depth (CTD) surveys and  mooring observations. Previous studies had suggested the presence of a buoyant coastal current forming during the ice-free season along the coast of the Peninsula.  By using the SO GLOBEC data set, I was able to provide a first description of this current, which we have named the Antarctic Peninsula Coastal Current (APCC).

The APCC is a strongly seasonal feature of the circulation, which seems to disappear during the winter months. While present, the APCC appears to transport a substantial proportion of the freshwater runoff from the land. Understanding the variability and dynamics of the APCC are therefore key to understanding the fate of the freshwater being lost from the Antarctic continent as the regional climate warms up. The cross-shelf gradients in density associated to the APCC are accompanied by gradients in biological properties like chlorophyll and plankton concentrations, suggesting that the APCC provides a favorable environment for biological production.

An initial version of these results were presented in February of 2006 at the Ocean Sciences conference at Hawaii and at the Antarctic Peninsula Climate Variability Workshop at Boulder, Colorado, and a final manuscript has been submitted to Deep Sea Research.

In the summer of 2007, I successfully defended my thesis, 'Coastal Circulation on the west Antarctic Peninsula’. After a visit back home in Chile, I returned in the fall of '07 to WHOI as a Post Doctoral Investigator working with Bob Beardsley and Breck Owens on a numerical model study of the APCC dynamics and several other topics related to my thesis work.