Ocean turbulence: from waves to the climate system

Started: Oct 2018
Supervisor: Mashayek, A. 

Description of Research

Deep ocean turbulence exerts a leading control over the climate system as it regulates the distribution of heat, nutrients, gases and other types of tracers. Only very recently light has been shed on this phenomenon; observations, experiments and numerical simulations led by international field programs found that deep ocean turbulence is generated by deep ocean waves which
can vary in size between a few meters to much bigger length scales. 

High-resolution numerical models of deep ocean turbulence are recent, but are helpful in contextualizing observational data and in the understanding the large scale climate system. The main challenge is to understand the physics of such waves and implementing them in climate models that are too coarse to resolve such turbulence.

In a broader perspective, gas that is exchanged from the atmosphere is transported to the bottom of the ocean and then brought back into the atmosphere. The latter problem will be of particular interest in this PhD: the breaking of deep ocean waves mixes heavier water, which normally sits below, with lighter one, favouring the exchange of gases and their ascent to the surface. This relatively small-medium scale phenomenon has huge effects on the overall climate system.


Andrea is a graduate with an M.Eng. in Aeronautical Engineering from Imperial College London. 

Andrea VivaldiPhD Candidate - Fluid Mechanics 
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering 
Imperial College London SW7 2AZ