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Geophysical Oceanography - a new tool to understand the thermal structure and dynamics of oceans

Objective

In this cross-disciplinary proposal we will investigate new seismic imaging techniques and develop quantitative and qualitative methods to analyse them and link the results with data from physical oceanography. In particular, we will examine internal waves and their interaction with the continental slope where enhanced mixing of water masses is expected; and using the extensive marine geophysical database acquired over the past 4 decades, evaluate longer term changes in the ocean structure. Large scale circ ulation in the oceans is an important process on the Earth for the redistribution of heat. Water masses of different temperature move past each other separated by relatively thin boundary layers. It is across these boundaries that thermal transfer and mixi ng must occur to maintain the circulation. The processes involved in thermal mixing are poorly understood. It is known that mixing in the open ocean is too low to maintain the large scale circulation patterns and that mixing is enhanced around areas of com plex topography and over continental slopes. Understanding this mixing is important: for global circulation issues, because it affects the density distribution of the different water masses and enhances the overturning circulation, and its influence on cli mate; and for controlling local biochemistry, nutrients, and the fate of biogenic particles. The key is in the role played by the thermal boundary layers and the ubiquitous internal waves that propagate along them, whose dissipation is critical in quantify ing thermal mixing of different water masses. The detailed internal structure of these boundaries and the internal waves is difficult to map with sufficient spatial resolution using standard oceanographic techniques. Geophysical oceanography can resolve th ese features and will create new research opportunities to understand ocean mixing processes.

Call for proposal

FP6-2003-NEST-B-3
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Coordinator

UNIVERSITY OF DURHAM
Address
University Office, Old Elvet
Durham
United Kingdom

Participants (7)

CONSEJO SUPERIOR DE INVESTIGACIONES CIENTIFICAS
Spain
Address
Calle Serrano 117
Madrid
ENTE PER LE NUOVE TECHNOLOGIE, L'ENERGIA E L'AMBIENTE
Italy
Address
Lungotevere Thaon Di Revel N°76
Roma
FUNDAÇÃO DA FACULDADE DE CIÊNCIAS DA UNIVERSIDADE DE LISBOA
Portugal
Address
Campo Grande, Edificio C8
Lisboa
INSTITUT FRANÇAIS DE RECHERCHE POUR L'EXPLOITATION DE LA MER
France
Address
Rue Jean-jacques Rousseau,155
Issy-les-moulineaux
LEIBNIZ-INSTITUT FÜR MEERESWISSENSCHAFTEN AN DER UNIVERSITÄT KIEL
Germany
Address
Wischhofstrasse 1-3
Kiel
NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCIL
United Kingdom
Address
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon
UNIVERSITE BRETAGNE OCCIDENTALE
France
Address
3, Rue Des Archives
Brest