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Towards a theory for the surface layer of the ocean: clarifying the contribution of non-breaking waves to the observed differences between the oceanic surface layer and its atmospheric counterpart

Project Description

In this project we intend to clarify the contribution of non-breaking waves to the observed differences between the oceanic surface layer and its atmospheric counterpart, and to formulate a systematic description of its scaling properties regarding, for example, heat and momentum fluxes, as achieved for the atmosphere by Monin-Obukhov theory. This will allow the formulation of more robust boundary conditions at the air-water interface in coupled atmosphere-ocean models, and the improvement of air-sea interaction models.
The student will perform high-resolution Large-Eddy Simulations of the oceanic boundary layer using the LEM model, in conjunction with idealized calculations for physical insight. The project will also make use of recent oceanic turbulence measurements available from the OSMOSIS project. More specifically, the student will:
- Use the field data and LEM simulations to develop and test a theory for describing the variation of mean and turbulent quantities in the oceanic surface layer.
- Check to what extent the effect of non-breaking waves (via Langmuir circulations) can explain the behaviour of mean and turbulent quantities.
- Interact (at ECMWF) with researchers working on coupled ocean-waves-atmosphere systems to ascertain the consistency of ocean surface heat and momentum fluxes.
- Depending on results from previous tasks, develop and potentially perform preliminary testing of an improved parametrization of the impact of non-breaking waves for the upper ocean.

This project will offer opportunities for the student to attend postgraduate modules at the University of Reading as part of the PhD training (e.g. MTMW11 Fluid Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Oceans, MTMG21 Oceanography), RRDP (Reading Researcher Development Program) courses on transferable skills (e.g. How to write a thesis, How to write a paper, Presentation Skills), summer schools on fluid dynamics (Summer School on Fluid Dynamics of Sustainability and the Environment) and numerical modelling (NCAS Climate Modelling Summer School), and conferences and workshops to disseminate the project’s results (e.g. EGU General Assemblies, European Turbulence Conferences, Royal Meteorological Society national conferences, etc.). The program of seminars run at the Department of Meteorology of the University of Reading provides contact with the most influential scientists and the most recent ideas in the field of Meteorology and Oceanography. The student will also benefit from visits to ECMWF (Reading), where one of the co-supervisors is based and there is expertise in atmosphere-waves-ocean interactions. This will not only allow experience of work with models used operationally for atmosphere and ocean forecasts (contemplated in the work plan), but also contact with a less academic and more professional environment. It will also provide additional opportunities for training, via the training courses and workshops organized by ECMWF, and the programme of seminars taking place there.

To read more about this project please follow the link:

Funding Notes

The project is available to students with their own funding. To apply, go to View Website

How good is research at University of Reading in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 75.68

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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