Research

Developing a quantitative understanding of the ocean-atmosphere coupling will greatly increase understanding of marine storms, ocean waves, upper ocean circulation, climate change and their impact on the physics, chemistry, and biology of the oceans. Models require far more realistic parameterizations of the processes responsible for the sea-air fluxes under a variety of environmental conditions.  We are interested in identifying the processes controlling air-sea fluxes of momentum, heat, and humidity as well as elucidating the temporal and spatial evolution of the surface mixed layer and surface wave field of the ocean.  We are also interested in understanding effects of air-sea transfer on biogeochemical cycles, especially carbon cycling.
 
Our goals are to pursue process-oriented research through remote sensing of the oceanic and atmospheric boundary layers.  We develop and apply innovative technology for the investigation of the complex and elusive processes within the marine boundary layers.  We probe the aqueous thermal boundary layer using infrared techniques from aircrafts, towers, ships, and autonomous vehicles as well as working to develop and refine techniques to measure air-sea fluxes and near-surface turbulence.  We are also developing new techniques that take advantage of the polarized properties of the air-sea interface.
 
We are dedicated to understanding the processes that affect ocean-atmosphere interaction. Our focus includes wave dynamics and wave breaking, the effect of near-surface turbulence on heat, gas, and momentum transport, airborne infrared remote sensing, upper-ocean processes, coastal and estuarine dynamics.  In addition, we aim to develop new experimental techniques to monitor the dynamics of fluid flows, such as remotely estimating the energy dissipation from breaking waves and to measure the two-dimensional surface gravity wave slope field, as well as precision measurements of ocean skin temperature.
 
Our interests may be categorized as (1) understanding the processes of the upper ocean and lower atmosphere that contribute to near-surface turbulence, including wave breaking of all scales, shear, convection, and rain; and (2) the process-driven effect of near-surface turbulence on the transfer of heat, mass, and momentum.  For example, large-scale wave breaking is a significant conduit for the transfer of energy from the wave field to the upper ocean and a source for turbulent mixing and the generation of currents.  Understanding and modeling the energy dissipation rate due to breaking waves requires field measurements of the spatial and temporal scales of the breaking process.  One approach to understanding these processes is the use of active and passive infrared remote sensing of the air-sea interface.  Infrared imaging affords me the unique opportunity to study surface phenomena controlling transfer across the air-sea interface by probing the dynamics of the aqueous thermal boundary, or skin, layer and its response to upper-ocean or lower-atmosphere processes.