Major Projects

Many of the ocean-related activities at Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) involve a mixture of modeling, data analysis, and model-data synthesis using advanced estimation methods to assess the evolution of the 3-dimensional ocean circulation and learn about the interaction of the oceans with the other components of the Earth system.

Our work involving a variety of model codes, data sets, and estimation methods is supported by NSF, NASA, NOAA, and DoD, under several different projects and collaborations with researchers at MIT, JPL, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other institutions. Major efforts include:

  • Studies of the Earth's time-mean and time-variable gravity field using ocean models and space geodesy observations (GRACE, GOCE) in relation to variability in sea level, the deep circulation and density fields, and the ocean mass field
  • Development of an ocean analysis and forecast system based on ensemble Kalman filtering methods and using regional domain, high resolution setups, applicable to both dense and sparse data sampling regimes and capable of producing useful measures of analysis/forecast errors
  • Studies of ocean surface salinity from space in support of NASA's Aquarius mission and the European SMOS mission using modeling simulations and analysis of in situ and multi-satellite data sets 
  • Analysis of large-scale sea level variability at time scales from days to years in support of satellite altimeter missions and involving topics such as the altimeter error budgets, the modeling procedures for de-aliasing of non-tidal signals in the altimeter records, the dynamics of the ocean's response to surface loading processes, and the relation of coastal signals to sea level variability at large
  • Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean (ECCO) on a global coarse-resolution domain using the MITgcm and its adjoint and most available ocean and surface atmospheric observations for the period since the early 90's to present 
  • Studies of the variability and dynamics of the meridional overturning circulation, in relation to oceanic heat transports and storage, high-latitude convection and deep water production, and assessment of appropriate monitoring strategies for the overturning circulation based on its sensitivity to local and remote perturbations in surface forcing, temperature and other physical factors
  • Production of an eddy-permitting Arctic and sub-polar North Atlantic state estimate for climate research using basic modeling and optimization tools developed within the ECCO project 
  • Advancing current understanding of the causes of sea level variability and change, at a global and regional level, by examining both geodetic and oceanographic aspects of the sea level problem, improving representation of relevant physics in current oceans models, implementing methods to take full advantage of available data in constraining the models, and assessing uncertainty levels in estimates of global and regional sea level change and their attribution