Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mathematics and the ocean: Movement, mixing and climate modeling

Date:
October 17, 2012
Source:
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Summary:
Mathematicians have described mathematical ideas from dynamical systems along with numerical modeling and experimental observations to analyze mixing in the ocean.

Emily Shuckburgh of the British Atlantic survey uses mathematical ideas from dynamical systems to study mixing in the Southern Ocean.
Credit: Image courtesy of Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Studying the dynamics of the ocean system can greatly improve our understanding of key processes of ocean circulations, which have implications for future climate. Can applying mathematics to the research help? Dr. Emily Shuckburgh of the British Antarctic Survey, speaking at the 2012 SIAM Annual Meeting, thinks the answer is an emphatic "yes."

Dr. Shuckburgh described mathematical ideas from dynamical systems used by her group, along with numerical modeling and experimental observations, to analyze circulation in the Southern Ocean. The Southern Ocean is unique in that it connects three major ocean basins -- the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Indian oceans -- with a powerful current that circulates all the way around Antarctica. This circumpolar current travels from the North Atlantic, sinking down to the bottom of the ocean and coming up to the surface around Antarctica, thus connecting the deep ocean with the atmosphere above. When water from the deep ocean comes up to the surface, it can exchange heat and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus making it highly significant for climate change.

Shuckburgh and her team study circulation at Drake Passage, which separates South America from the Antarctic Peninsula, at the point where water in the Southern Ocean passes from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans. Because of the differing properties of water from different regions -- salty water from the Northern Atlantic and the extremely cold waters of Antarctic ice -- this region is perfectly suited to study how water with different properties mixes together during circulation. Moreover, as water moves through Drake Passage, flowing over rock-bottom mountainous topography and then churning upward, it creates a great deal of mixing. Mixing is a key determinant in the uptake of heat and carbon by oceans.

Shuckburgh's team quantifies the amount of mixing by taking measurements of ocean properties and currents from the surface of the water down to the bottom of the ocean. In addition, dyes and tracers are tracked as they flow through Drake Passage in order to observe how mixing occurs. Diffusion of the tracer is a good qualitative indicator of transport and mixing properties, and can give an indication of how absorbed heat may be redistributed in the water.

Ocean mixing is currently not well simulated by climate models, even though it plays a major role in ocean heat uptake. Oceans are capable of absorbing, storing and releasing large quantities of heat. As greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun, oceans absorb more heat, leading to increased sea surface temperatures, rising sea levels, and consequently, changing climate patterns around the world. In addition, oceans can diffuse the effects of changes in temperature over great distances due to mixing and movement, and potential alteration of ocean currents, which can result in a greater ability to absorb heat. Studying processes such as ocean mixing is thus essential to understanding the oceans' influence on future climate.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. "Mathematics and the ocean: Movement, mixing and climate modeling." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121017141809.htm>.
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. (2012, October 17). Mathematics and the ocean: Movement, mixing and climate modeling. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121017141809.htm
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. "Mathematics and the ocean: Movement, mixing and climate modeling." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121017141809.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins