University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Geophysical and Environmental Processes (DAMTP/BPI) > How many oceans are there really? Using Lagrangian ocean dynamics to study climate, marine ecosystems and plastic accumulation

How many oceans are there really? Using Lagrangian ocean dynamics to study climate, marine ecosystems and plastic accumulation

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The ocean is in constant motion, with water circulating within and flowing between basins. As the water moves around, it caries heat and nutrients, as well as larger objects like planktonic marine species and plastic litter, around the globe.

The most natural way to study the pathways of water and the connections between ocean basins is in a Lagrangian framework, where the ocean circulation is traced out using particle trajectories. The trajectories can come from either computing of virtual floats in high-resolution ocean models, or from the paths of free-flowing observational drifters (surface buoys or Argo floats) in the real ocean. Using ideas from dynamical systems theory, the trajectories can be used to understand spatial connectivity patterns.

In this seminar, I’ll give an overview of some of my recent work with Lagrangian particles, in fields as diverse as dynamical oceanography, dynamical systems theory, marine ecology, palaeoclimatology, genetics, and even archeology. Central to each of these studies is the question on how connected the different ocean basins are, and on what time scales water flows between the different regions of the ocean. This will allow us to redraw the boundaries of the oceans, based on dynamical considerations rather than geographical conventions.

This talk is part of the Geophysical and Environmental Processes (DAMTP/BPI) series.

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