CIE Seminar Series 2014 – Chasing water: The Lagrangian take on the global ocean circulation, by Dr Erik van Sebille

Dr Erik van SebilleSPEAKERDr Erik van Sebille, Climate Change Research Centre & ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney
DATE: Monday, 7th April 2014
LOCATION: Warrnambool Campus, Room J.2.20
TIME: 2:00 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room L1.05 and Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207

ABSTRACT: The ocean is in constant motion, with water circulating within and flowing between basins. As the water moves around, it carries heat and nutrients, as well as larger objects like planktonic marine species and 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 numerical integration 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.

In purely passive mode, the particles can be used to study heat and nutrient transport. Or, if they’re at the surface, the movement of plastic litter. But with only a few changes to their behaviour, the particles can be made to represent microbes, larvae, or even turtles. In this seminar, I’ll give an overview of some of my recent work with Lagrangian particles, in fields as diverse as dynamical oceanography, marine ecology, paleoclimatology 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.

BIO: Erik is an oceanographer, investigating the time scales and pathways of the global ocean circulation. His research focusses on how currents and eddies in the ocean transport heat and nutrients, as well as marine organisms and plastics between different regions of the ocean. He uses both data from ocean observations as well as from computer simulations of the ocean to understand how different regions of the ocean are connected.

Erik received his PhD in physical oceanography at Utrecht University (The Netherlands) in 2009. He then worked for two years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Miami in the USA. Since 2011, he is at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He is an Associate Investigator of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. In 2013, the ARC awarded him a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), which allowed him to start building his own group within the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW. He was a Media Fellow with the now-defunct Climate Commission and is now an advisor for its successor the Climate Council.