Ocean Sciences

Research Concentrations

When admitted to the OCE graduate program, students will choose a research concentration based on their research interests.

Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing

The focus of this concentration is on sub-millimeter to mesoscale processes at and across the air-sea interface, from the oceanic thermocline to the atmospheric boundary layer. Research topics include surface fluxes and turbulent mixing events, wind-wave-current interactions, hurricane intensity changes, storm surge predictions, coupled tropical dynamics, underwater acoustics, internal and surface gravity waves, and coastal processes. OCE faculty, research staff, and students approach these studies using our unique wind-wave laboratory (SUSTAIN) and satellite-data facilities (CSTARS), and through field experimentation using ship-, buoy-, land-, and aircraft-based instrumentation. Coupled ocean-atmosphere modeling studies provide a framework to understand these observations, where one of the foci is tropical weather and hurricanes. Many of our research efforts have societal relevance in areas such as severe weather and wave forecasting, disaster monitoring and mitigation response, climate change, renewable energy developments, marine transportation and ship tracking, search and rescue, and pollutant dispersion.

Faculty Specialists: Michael Brown, Shuyi Chen, Harry DeFerrari, Will Drennan, Hans Graber, Brian Haus, Peter Minnett, Roland Romeiser, L. Nick Shay, Jorge Willemsen, Chidong Zhang

Courses: OCE students concentrating on Air-Sea Interaction and Remote Sensing will take two out of the three OCE core courses: Ocean Biogeochemistry, Principles of Physical Oceanography, and Analytical Methods, as well as Applied Hydrodynamics, and Wave Propagation in the Ocean Environment. A Manuscript Writing Skill course is also required before the end of the third year. Additional electives can be chosen from OCE courses or other department listings.

 

Biophysical Interactions

This concentration addresses the study of ocean productivity, the distribution, transport, and behavior of planktonic organisms, and their complex interactions with higher trophic levels. Researchers in OCE take a multi-prong approach, coupling the development of biophysical models with experimental field and laboratory work. OCE scientists develop new techniques and instrumentation to observe and model planktonic organism behavior and their responses to environmental signals. Research topics include the study of harmful algal blooms, plankton distribution and patchiness, trophic interactions, larval dispersal and population connectivity, biological control of physical constraints, microbial dynamics, bioacoustics, and animal navigation.

Faculty Specialists: Josefina Olascoaga, Don Olson, Claire Paris, Guillermo Podesta

Courses: OCE students concentrating on Biophysical Interactions will take two out of the three OCE core courses: Ocean Biogeochemistry, Principles of Physical Oceanography, and Analytical Methods, as well as Introduction to Biological Oceanography, and Math for Biophysical Interactions. A Manuscript Writing Skill course is also required before the end of the third year. Additional electives can be chosen from OCE courses or other department listings.

 

Marine Biogeochemistry

Studies in this concentration focus on the physical, chemical, biological, and geological processes controlling the oceanic cycling of carbon, macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and silicon), and trace elements (e.g., iron). We conduct our work throughout the global ocean, using advanced analytical and modeling techniques to assess the dynamics of these elements. Research topics include, ocean acidification, nutrient limitation of productivity, global distributions of biogeochemical variables, tracers for time scales of water mass formation and circulation, air-sea exchange of materials, carbon fluxes, microbial processes, and speciation, distribution, and isotopic ratio of dissolved trace metals.

Faculty Specialists: Hilary Close, Rana Fine, Dennis Hansell, Jim Happell, Kim Popendorf, Jingfeng Wu

Courses: OCE students concentrating on Marine Biogeochemistry will take two out of the three OCE core courses: Ocean Biogeochemistry, Principles of Physical Oceanography, and Analytical Methods, as well as Introduction to Chemical Oceanography, and Introduction to Biological Oceanography. A Manuscript Writing Skill course is also required before the end of the third year. Additional electives can be chosen from OCE courses or other department listings.

 

Ocean Dynamics

This concentration covers the study of how the ocean moves on all scales, from turbulence and eddies to ocean gyres and the global thermohaline circulation, and how these motions impact and interact with Earth's climate. Scientists in OCE approach studies of Ocean Dynamics through sea-going experimentation and data analysis, development of conceptual modeling tools, data assimilation, numerical simulations, ocean prediction, and forecasting. Research topics include the dynamics and variability of boundary currents like the Gulf Stream, basin-wide meridional overturning and heat transport, mesoscale and submesoscale dynamics and stirring, turbulence, water mass formation and ventilation, oil spills, and coastal and continental shelf processes.

Faculty Specialists: Lisa Beal, Rana Fine, Mohamed Iskandarani, Bill Johns, Igor Kamenkovich, Villy Kourafalou, Arthur Mariano, Josefina Olascoaga, Don Olson, Tamay Ozgokmen, John Van Leer

Courses: OCE students concentrating on Ocean Dynamics will take two out of the three OCE core courses: Ocean Biogeochemistry, Principles of Physical Oceanography, and Analytical Methods, as well as Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics II. A Manuscript Writing Skill course is also required before the end of the third year. Additional electives can be chosen from OCE courses or other department listings.