The dynamics of ocean circulation is of central importance for natural and human-induced changes to global climate as well as to regional marine ecology. Ocean currents are highly variable as a combined result of atmospheric forcing and internal ocean instability processes; in many areas they are dominated by “mesoscale” eddy motions with dimensions of 50 km or less.
The main goal of our research is to facilitate projections of the future evolution of regional ocean properties in response to changing climate conditions: by understanding the dynamical causes and mechanisms of ocean transport variability on inter-annual to multi-decadal time scales; and by identifying the critical processes that need to be captured in global climate models.
As a main tool of research we conduct numerical “experiments”: a hierarchy of regional- to global-scale models of ocean circulation, with high spatial resolution to capture mesoscale ocean currents and eddies, is used to simulate observed ocean variability during the last ~50 years, and to investigate the mechanisms of the oceanic response to atmospheric forcing.
Studies are also carried out, sometimes using simplified models, to understand fundamental dynamical processes operating in the ocean and the atmosphere.