As a physical oceanographer, I am interested in the dynamics of the ocean, and the role they play in our climate. The ocean makes up about 70% of our earth's surface, and the intricate relationship between it and our atmosphere drives our global climate. The complex interactions between various oceanographic dynamics, with one another and with topographic features, lead to mixing in the ocean interior. This mixing is partially responsible for the relatively steady state of our global ocean, and will in turn be affected by changes in our climate. Internal waves, or waves that propagate on density interfaces in the ocean, are a primary cause of ocean mixing. Similar to surface waves breaking on the beach, internal waves can break in the ocean interior, causing the density layers to become mixed, and therefore less stratified. As stratification has important implications for biology, understanding the propagation and dissipation of internal waves is a key component of understanding our ocean's ecosystems and our global climate.
Low-frequency internal waves forced by winds, known as near-inertial waves, vary seasonally and have large signals in higher latitudes, where winter storms are strong. Internal waves forced by tides, or internal tides, are generated by tides flowing over rough topography, and propagate with periods 12-24 hours. The energy input in the ocean from these sources is large, but is rarely dissipated locally. Intead, these waves can propagate for thousands of kilometers, and share energy with higher frequency internal waves and lower frequency eddies. While near-inertial waves and internal tides are generated and propagate in different ways, they interact similarly with other internal waves and background flows. My research goals lie in understanding these interactions, using both numerical simulations as well as in-situ observations.