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Keck Cave
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(Keck Cave at UC Davis)

Visualizing ocean circulation over the last 30,000 years

This multidisciplinary and multi-institutional NSF-funded project brings together a team of computer scientists, physical oceanographers, paleoceanographers, and computational geophysicists (from WHOI, UC Davis, and UC Santa Barbara) to reconstruct the past ocean circulation from sparse geochemical data collected from fossils in deep sea sedimentary cores. The research takes advantage of the unique analytical resources and interdisciplinary collaborative environment provided by the UC Davis KeckCAVES (W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences), an immersive interactive visualization technology that helps identify meaningful patterns in complex datasets. As the paleo-data is too sparse to use simple interpolation mapping schemes, we are using knowledge of ocean dynamics together with inverse methods to provide the first global 4-dimensional maps of the properties of the paleo-ocean. This project is part of an overall goal of answering the question, just how different were ocean pathways during the Last Glacial Maximum (20,000 years ago)?

The project brings new visualization tools to WHOI through collaboration with the UC Davis group. Collaborator Oliver Kreylos, recently highlighted by the New York Times, is designing a low cost Virtual Reality system that will be housed at WHOI and will complement the KeckCAVES facility. Also, check out this highlight reel of visualization techniques. Prospective graduate students are encouraged to contact me ( for information on how to get involved in the project.

Gebbie, G.,C.D. Peterson, L.E. Lisiecki, and H.J. Spero, "Global-mean marine d13C and its uncertainty in a glacial state estimate," submitted.

Weber, C., R. Westerteiger, G. Streletz, O. Kreylos, G. Gebbie, H. J. Spero, L. H. Kellogg, A. Gerndt, B. Hamann, and H. Hagen, “Exploration of time-dependent paleoceanographic flow data in virtual reality,” submitted.

Streletz, G.J., G. Gebbie, B. Hamann, and O. Kreylos, “Interpolating Sparse Scattered Data Using Flow Information,” J. Computational Sci., submitted.

Kronenberger, M., C. Weber, G. Gebbie, O. Kreylos, L.H. Kellogg, L.E. Lisiecki, C. Peterson, H.J. Spero, B. Hamann, and H. Hagen, "A Novel Distance Measure for Ocean Reconstruction from Sparse Observations Demonstrated on the Atlantic," submitted.

Gebbie, G., "How much did Glacial North Atlantic Water shoal?" Paleoceanography, 29, doi:10.1002/2013PA002557. Also see auxiliary material.

Gebbie, G., "Tracer transport timescales and the observed Atlantic-Pacific lag in the timing of the last Termination," Paleoceanography, 27, PA3225, doi:10.1029/2011PA002273, 2012.

Gebbie, G., and P. Huybers, “How is the ocean filled?,” Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L06604, doi:10.1029/2011GL046769, 2011.

Gebbie, G., and P. Huybers, “Total matrix intercomparison: a method for determining the geometry of water-mass pathways,” J. Phys. Oceanogr., 40 (8), doi:10.1175/2010JPO4272.1, 1710– 1728, 2010.

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(Photo by Marinka)

Ice sheet-ocean interactions
As part of the WHOI Arctic Research Initiative, we are tracking the signal of icesheet-ocean interaction in the large-scale water-mass properties of the global ocean with the goal of determining how much the melt of icesheets is accelerating. Preliminary results have diagnosed and quantified the influence of Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf Water in the formation of Antarctic Bottom Water in an unusual but effective way, using the relatively well-observed seawater signatures of freshwater, temperature, nutrients, and dissolved oxygen to back out what has happened on Antarctica. This method will be applied to the accelerating ice melt occurring on Greenland, as well.

Last updated: May 14, 2015

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