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Small-Scale Physics and Turbulence

An ocean glider before diving. -Image: Raimo Koptezky/Hereon-

An ocean glider before diving. -Image: Raimo Koptezky/Hereon-

A vast range of scales of motion is present in the ocean -- from the large-scale oceanic gyres that fill entire ocean basins to millimetre sized eddies that determine mixing. It is this range of scales that presents the greatest difficulties in both observing and modeling ocean and climate dynamics.

In particular, small-scale physical processes and turbulence are poorly understood, but are important processes for the transport of heat, salt, oxygen and nutrients. Thus, they also strongly influence many biogeochemical processes.
The research group Small-scale Physics and Turbulence therefore works to understand ocean circulation, mixing, and transport processes through a study of the smallest turbulent scales of motion. It uses autonomous ocean gliders for direct field measurement, high performance computer clusters for conducting numerical simulations, as well as new theoretical models. Current, and ongoing, fields of investigation include:

  • North Sea coastal turbulence
  • Ocean impacts of offshore wind farms
  • Turbulent transport of heat in the Arctic Ocean
  • Atmosphere-ocean wave coupling and energy transfers
  • Submesoscale energy transfers in the surface mixed layer