Importance of 3D Processes Near the Ocean’s Surface for Material Transport

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Tamay M Ozgokmen, University of Miami, Miami, FL, United States
There are a number of practical problems that demand an accurate knowledge of ocean currents near the surface of the ocean. It is known that oceanic coherent features transport heat and carry out vertical exchange of biogeochemical tracers. Ocean currents can affect biological primary production, air-sea gas exchanges and global tracer budgets. Ocean currents are also important for the dispersion of substances that pose a danger to society, economy and human health. Examples of such events include algal blooms, the Fukushima nuclear plant incident in the Pacific Ocean in 2011, and repeated large oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, namely the IXTOC in 1978 and the Deepwater Horizon event in 2010. Such incidents demand accurate answers to questions such as ``where will the pollutant go?", ``how fast will it get there?" and ``how much pollutant will arrive there?", and in some instances ``where did the pollutant come from?". The answers to these questions are critical to the allocation of limited response resources, and in determining the overall impact of the events.

We will summarize the efforts by the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE). One of the primary objectives of CARTHE is to improve predictive modeling capability for flows near the air-sea interface. In particular, two large experiments, Grand Lagrangian Deployment (GLAD) and Surf-zone and Coastal Oil Pathways Experiment (SCOPE), coordinated with real-time modeling were instructive on processes influencing near-surface material transport. Findings on submesoscale flows as well as model deficiencies to capture processes relevant to transport will be discussed. Insight into future modeling and observational plans will be provided.