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This web site is organized around two of my ongoing research projects, upper ocean dynamics and overflow dynamics, and also includes some material that is intended for educational purposes.

What's new?  On 16 October, 2018, a newly revised Part 4 of a Coriolis tutorial Version 2

Upper Ocean

Upper ocean projects have one of two themes; the ocean's response to solar heating, which gives rise to a diurnal cycle of temperature, density and velocity, and the ocean's response to a hurricane. These may seem like vastly different phenomenon, the diurnal cycle is often characterized by very light winds, while a hurricane is clearly a very high wind phenomenon, and yet they have in common that vertical mixing within the upper ocean boundary layer, often termed a mixed layer, is quite significant in both instances. Indeed, when normalized by temperature anomaly and depth, the response in a diurnal cycle and in a hurricane may be remarkably similar. A key difference is that the hurricane response includes interesting and important non-local effects, including the generation of inertial internal waves that form a spreading, three-dimensional wake behind a moving storm.


Overflows are the result of evaporation and cooling within a semi-enclosed marginal sea and the subsequent flow of the dense water into the open ocean. We have studied two of the major overflows into the North Atlantic, the overflow of salty Mediterranean water through the Strait of Gibraltar and the overflow of cold Norwegian Sea bottom water through the Faroe Bank Channel. The overflows can be characterized as bottom trapped density currents that may be fairly intense and mix vigorously with their surroundings. The resulting modification of overflow properties is a key aspect of mixing in the deep ocean and one that is difficult to represent in large scale ocean models that seek to model the overturning circulation. A goal of our ongoing work is to develop schemes for representing dynamic overflows in such models.


Educational material includes the outlines of two courses that I have taught recently in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program,  Science and Communication, 12.757, which is about science per se, and is not discipline specific, and Fluid Mechanics of the Atmosphere and Ocean, 12.800, which is an introduction to fluid mechanics with a slight geophysical twist. The fluid mechanics syllabus is accompanied by a number of Fortran and Matlab scripts that can be used to generate solutions useful for diagnostic studies. There are also three essays on topics that I felt were important and not described in sufficient depth or with clarity in the texts that I knew; the topics are 1) Dimensional analysis, 2) the Coriolis force and 3) Kinematics of fluid flow; Lagrangian and Eulerian representations. All of this material is public domain for any personal, educational purpose, and may be copied for distribution to a class. I am grateful for comments or questions regarding the three essays, especially from students.


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Last updated October 16, 2018
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