The (Sub)mesoscale Group resides in the Air – Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Department of the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. We investigate how physical processes modulate life in the ocean. Of primary interest is the influence of mesoscale O(10-100 km) and submesoscale O(1-10km) features, including eddies, meanders, and fronts, on air-sea fluxes, marine ecosystem and ocean mixing.
Peter Gaube, Senior Oceanographer
My research focuses on the biological response to the horizontal and vertical movement of water masses in the open ocean, and on the fate of the chemicals, nutrients, and particulates that move with them. I am currently investigating the influence of nonlinear mesoscale ocean eddies—large, swirling masses of water that can travel for hundreds of miles—on primary production—the ability of phytoplankton to convert inorganic carbon in the atmosphere and ocean into compounds that form the building blocks of life. In addition, I seek to understand why eddies originating in different regions have different effects on marine ecosystems. To investigate these interactions between the physical and biological marine systems in the open ocean, I use satellite observations, in-situ measurements (Argo floats, gliders, etc.), and the output of numerical simulations.
Kyla Drushka, Senior Oceanographer
My work focuses on understanding processes in the upper ocean and at the air-sea interface from in situ and satellite observations, on scales from a single rain storm to (sub)mesoscale to thousands of kilometers. I am particularly interested in understanding how surface forcing (solar, rain, wind) affects near-surface mixing, currents, and stratification. I am currently part of the second Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Region Study (SPURS-2), investigating how rainfall affects upper ocean salinity. I am also using in situ observations to characterize how temperature and salinity contribute to (sub)mesoscale density variability, and how we can estimate this from satellite observations of sea surface temperature and ocean color.
Alice Della Penna, Postdoc Scholar
My research aims at understanding how marine organisms (from phytoplankton to top predators) respond to the dynamic and heterogeneous environment of the open ocean. During my Ph.D. I studied how mesoscale features such as eddies and fronts (the oceanic equivalent of atmospheric cyclones and atmospheric fronts) influence top marine predators (seals and penguins) and phytoplankton (the base of all open ocean trophic webs). With my project at APL / Gaubelab I am focusing on the effect of sub- and mesoscale ocean dynamics on intermediate trophic levels (zooplankton and fish). These animals are key stones of marine ecosystems, linking primary production to the upper levels of trophic webs (including humans). Yet, too small to be “tagged” like large fish, marine mammals and seabirds, and invisible to satellites, relatively little is known about their distribution. To find out more about the response of these elusive animals to mesoscale ocean dynamics and other components of marine ecosystems, I combine bio-logging of top predators, in-situ observations from both research voyages and autonomous platforms and satellite data.
Camrin Braun, Postdoc Scholar
I am a PhD student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography where I study interactions between pelagic (open ocean) fishes and the biology and physics of the ocean. I am particularly interested in how oceanography influences behavior of highly migratory fish species, like sharks, tunas and billfish. Since joining the (Sub)mesoscale team as a visiting scientist, I have been investigating how mesoscale oceanography (eddies, fronts and other forms of ocean motion, like the Gulf Stream) drive movements and behavior of sharks in the North Atlantic Ocean. As a collaborator with the (Sub)mesoscale group, we are currently focused on how blue, mako, tiger and white sharks use mesoscale features differently and what that may mean for their ecology and their interactions with fishing fleets. To study these interactions, I deploy electronic tags on these study species and couple these observations with satellite, in situ and modeled oceanographic data and simulations.
Aurélie Moulin, Research Oceanographer
I study how heat and salt are redistributed in the upper layers of the ocean as a result of changes in atmospheric conditions. When mesoscale eddies form they have specific temperature, salinity, and velocity characteristics that over time will be mixed vertically and horizontally until they completely dissipate. The rate of mixing within eddies may be different than in the open ocean around them. Understanding how mixing inside eddies behave compared to their ambient may contribute to the understanding their lifetime and interactions with marine life.
My background is in the mixing processes involved in the dissipation of heat and freshwater in the top 10 meters of equatorial oceans subject to strong insolation, variable precipitation, and different wind regimes.
Want to learn more about eddies and our research? Check out this short movie.