Environmental fluid mechanics focuses on ocean circulation and the physical processes driving waves and currents. Fluid and sediment transport, gas transfer, and wave dynamics are investigated to further our knowledge of ocean physics, erosion, and global climate.
The study of the interaction between the air and the sea is essential in order to fully understand the earth's climate and concepts such as global warming. While investigating the transfer of momentum, heat, water vapor, carbon dioxide and other gases between the water surface and atmosphere, scientists are working toward improving the understanding of marine boundary layer processes and effects on weather, wave dynamics, ocean circulation, and climate variability.
Mixing, Turbulence and Wave Dynamics
The ocean is in constant motion, affecting our climate, weather patterns, and fishing industries. Circulation and fluctuations are charted and predicted. The layers of the ocean and the stirring that occurs between oceanic layers are investigated.
Knowledge of sediment transport is important to investigations of marine life and shellfish bed distribution, as well as in studies of seafloor morphological change on small to large scales, from sand ripples to sandbars and coastlines.
Biological and Biogeochemical Fluid Mechanics
The movement of marine life through the water affects the ocean environment and helps determine where sea life will develop and flourish. Knowledge of fish propulsion and momentum also contributes to improving the motion and maneuverability of underwater vehicles.