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Karl Helfrich and Jack Whitehead observing vorticity front intrusions on the two meter rotating table.

An oblique view of the above vortices that illustrates their three dimensionality.
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory studies have been a long tradition at WHOI. The laboratories in CRL and Clark are used by members of the Physical Oceanography, Geology and Geophysics and Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering departments, students, visiting investigators, and fellows in the summer GFD Program to investigate processes which affect fluid transport. The facilities are available to all investigators at WHOI.

In some experiments, new concepts of fluid flow are explored using simplified physical models. In others, users of laboratory apparatus attempt to replicate mathematical models and test their physical validity. In still others, real ocean data can sometimes be correlated directly to complex mathematical models using laboratory experiments. And finally, some experiments produce data available nowhere else at present

Two permanent rotating tables are available at the Coastal Research Laboratory along with a third in the Clark building. The largest is two meters in diameter and capable of rotation rates of 20 RPM (f = ~4.0) with loads of over 1000 kg. Many experiments require custom-made tanks and apparatus. In order to maintain a consistent environment around each experiment, the laboratory at CRL is temperature and humidity controlled. A number of precise fluid thermostatic baths are available along with a salt water flow system. The laboratory has sensitive instruments to determine temperature, salinity and fluid density. Often images are used to analyze the flows, so the laboratory is continually upgrading its laser particle/fluid tracking and computer analysis equipment.

The laboratory also function as showcase for fluid studies at WHOI. Educational groups, science and technical organization members, and governmental representatives frequently visit the lab. These visits help people to visualize flows and processes that we study in oceanography and provide feedback on related technologies and topics of current scientific interest.

Major funding for the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory is provided by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and internal WHOI research and education grants.
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