Division of Ocean Sciences - Fall 2002 Newsletter
NSF 03-014
(Replaces NSF 02-055)

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Physical Oceanography

Once again, the Physical Oceanography Program would like to thank the many people, both in the U.S. and abroad, who have taken the time to read proposals and provide us with thoughtful reviews. These reviews are crucial to the process of proposal evaluation and it is a tribute to our community that the return rate has consistently been above 80%, the highest in the Division of Ocean Sciences. The program would also like to thank this year’s panelists who, in the Spring or Fall, dedicated a substantial amount of time considering roughly 100 proposals.

Inaugural Physical Oceanography Dissertation Symposium

The Physical Oceanography Dissertation Symposium (PODS) held its inaugural meeting in Breckenridge, Colorado, June 17-21, 2002. This program is designed to introduce new PhD graduates to each other and the physical oceanographic community and to promote the exchange of recent research results and ideas. PODS selected 21 participants from a diverse set of institutions, ranging from University of North Carolina to University of Hawaii with far reaching participants from the University of Reading, UK and the University of New South Wales, Australia who will be doing their postdoctoral studies in the United States. Dr. Walter Munk, one of the most acclaimed oceanographers of our time, gave the keynote presentation, “The Evolution of Physical Oceanography in the Last 100 Years.” The meeting featured detailed presentations from each of the new graduates intermixed with discussion sessions on topics relevant to young investigators, such as new directions of science, proposal-writing, and how to initiate research programs. The research topics discussed reflected current scientific and societal priorities including the energetics of the thermohaline circulation and its role in climate, the structure of estuarine and coastal exchanges, the role of internal tides in energy dissipation in the ocean, the formation of water masses in subtropical oceans, and the processes governing mixing and air-sea interaction. The next PODS will be held in October 2003 in Hawaii in conjunction with the DISCO meeting. For more information, see <http://spars.aibs.org/pods/>.

Symposium Participants
Physical Oceanography Dissertation Symposium 2002 Participants

Funding highlights

The span of ocean science covered by recent proposals continues to be broad. Topics range from the physics of mixing and dispersion to the structure and variability of the western boundary current regime. The May 2002 panel addressed over 100 proposals. Two large field efforts were funded, INSTANT and KESS. The INSTANT program, involving contributions of 6 countries (USA, France, Netherlands, Australia, Indonesia, Japan), will finally measure in a coordinated fashion the Indonesian ThroughFlow (ITF) in the key throughflow passages (Makassar Strait, Lifamatola Passage, Lombok Strait, Ombai Strait and Timor Passage) simultaneously. The measurements span a 3-year period beginning in August 2003. The INSTANT objectives are: 1) to determine the full depth velocity and property structure of the Throughflow and its associated heat and freshwater flux; 2) to resolve the annual, seasonal, and intraseasonal characteristics of the ITF transport and property flux; 3) to investigate the storage and modification of the ITF waters within the internal Indonesian seas, from their Pacific source characteristics to the Indonesian Throughflow water exported into the Indian Ocean; and 4) to contribute to the design of a cost-effective, long-term monitoring strategy for the ITF. The KESS program (Kuroshio Extension System Study) will look at the interaction of the Kuroshio Extension with the recirculation. There are plans for this experiment to go into the water in 2004. In addition, fieldwork on turbulence in the bottom boundary layer and fieldwork on the dynamics of estuarine buoyant plumes were funded.

What’s new and what’s coming up in the future?

The big news from the Ocean Sciences Division at NSF this last spring and summer has been the new Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) (see article in the August 2002 issue of Sea Technology). But that’s not all that’s new for the oceanography community. The Ocean Information Technology Infrastructure report has come out (for a copy, send an email request to oceanpubs@nsf.gov) and the community has responded by planning additional workshops to define researchers’ local (not supercomputer) computing needs, data management, and real-time data transfer needs. These workshops will address day-to-day infrastructure needs of the community, including those that tie in with OOI. In addition, we are starting to look for ways to bring new platforms, such as gliders and autonomous vehicles, to the point of research readiness, outfit them with the sensors investigators need, and make them available to the individual researcher. We anticipate this will open new avenues of scientific investigation and will complement the use of time-series stations and observatories.

CLIVAR/Carbon Cycle

The Program continues to fund climate-related research and, with the recent emergence of detailed CLIVAR implementation plans, anticipates a growth in the number of CLIVAR and CLIVAR-related projects. The CLIVAR Steering Committee and Interagency Working Group have been discussing how to implement Climate Process Teams as part of the CLIVAR implementation. Look for more news about this in the near future. The CLIVAR program at NSF is coordinating its activities with the new CCRI (Climate Change Research Initiative) headed out of the Commerce Department by Dr. Jim Mahoney. For more information about the recent carbon cycle research panel, see the Chemical Oceanography Program News.


The Physical Oceanography Program welcomes on board two new faces in 2002. Dr. Theresa Paluszkiewicz who managed the Ocean Modeling program at ONR for the past four years joined us as Program Director in a permanent slot in January of 2002 and Dr. Elise Ralph joined us as a new rotator.

Terri’s checkered past includes many years doing fieldwork in coastal oceanography at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, and at Oregon State University. She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland and studied the behavior of buoyant plumes in the ocean using numerical models. Terri spent several years at the Department of Interior, Minerals Management Service, where she introduced new models and drifter programs, followed by several years as a Senior Scientist and then manager of the Marine Sciences Lab of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory focusing on ocean circulation modeling in support of DOE’s climate change prediction. While at ONR, Terri sponsored many community building activities in the ocean modeling community, managed some of the NOPP activities for the Navy and spearheaded several multi-disciplinary research initiatives dealing with coupled boundary layer air-sea transfer and capturing uncertainty in the common environmental and tactical picture.

Elise, a graduate of the MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography, has a joint appointment between the Large Lakes Observatory and the Physics Department at the University of Minnesota, Duluth campus. Her work with Larry Pratt included semi-analytical studies on the meandering and bifurcation of jets. While doing her postdoctoral work with Peter Niiler at Scripps, she was involved in the analysis of WOCE drifter data and identified the mean structure of Ekman spirals in the Pacific. Since moving to Minnesota she has been one of the leaders in the Great Lakes CoOP program using VM-ADCP, mooring and hydrographic work to identify the structure of mesoscale eddies and the amplitude of the wind-driven barotropic circulation in Lake Superior.

Eric Itsweire (eitsweir@nsf.gov)
Terri Paluszkiewicz (tpaluszk@nsf.gov)
Elise Ralph (eralph@nsf.gov)

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