Determining turbulent controls on ocean structure using autonomous robots

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Ocean and Earth Science


Turbulence is, by its very nature, chaotic and sporadic. Understanding turbulence and turbulent mixing is however, critical to accurately predict ocean dynamics, mixed layer depth, biological productivity, air-sea gas transfer and the global carbon cycle. Recent developments have shown ocean gliders to be excellent platforms for measuring turbulence. These robots represent a real step change in ocean mixing measurements; however, there remains the need to provide similar resolution measurements of the processes driving or controlling mixing. Newly equipped ocean gliders with integrated current velocimeters (ADCPs) offer the potential to measure ocean current velocities alongside density structure and turbulence at fine scales. This project will develop the analytical methods to measure current velocity and shear from ocean gliders at the appropriate length and time scales to capture the transition between laminar and turbulent ocean flows and close the local turbulent kinetic energy budget. The student will use this new capability to advance understanding of key ocean fluxes that are critical for understanding the Earth system.


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