Linking the seasonal cycle of ocean water masses to transient climate change

In boreal winter the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans become cold, dense and turbulent. Oxygen, carbon and other substances are drawn out of the atmosphere and ventilated into the deep ocean. In boreal summer, as the surface layers in the north warm, cooling and ventilation begins in the southern hemisphere in earnest.

The process of seasonal ventilation dictates the ocean’s role in climate – both present and future. Only in the last decade has a systematic understanding of seasonal ventilation become possible due to the presence of thousands of autonomous buoys (ARGO) and satellites measuring upper ocean temperature and salinity. Likewise never has the need to quantify it been more pressing.

This project will combine the latest observations to generate a quantitative picture of the formation, ventilation and destruction of cold dense water masses in both hemispheres. A key novelty of this project will be the use the water-mass transformation framework. Using this framework variability in water mass properties is attributed to surface heating and cooling, evaporation and precipitation, mixing and energetic drivers such as wind forcing.

This project is supervised by Dr Jan Zika (UNSW Sydney). Please contact j.zika@unsw.edu.au for more information.

Submit your application by Oct 26 2018 for commencement in Term 1, 2019.

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