Filling in the Map: How robots, data mining and interdisciplinary studies are revealing ocean mixing rates, mechanisms and impacts
Mixing is a key control on the distributions of heat, salt, carbon and nutrients in the world’s oceans, and is critical to understanding ocean physics, chemistry and biology. However, despite its importance, our understanding of ocean mixing is limited, primarily due to an extreme scarcity of mixing measurements. In this talk, I’ll introduce you to our research program which aims to address this data gap and answer important questions about ocean mixing rates, their spatiotemporal distributions, mixing mechanisms and mixing impacts using robotic ocean-observing platforms, turbulence parameterizations, and climate model thought experiments. I’ll tell a story of our specific efforts to better understand the space-time geography of mixing in the Arctic Ocean, the most under-sampled of all ocean basins, where exceptionally low energy and high stratification make mixing mechanisms unique and not well-understood. I’ll also review other research efforts, including probing the role of ocean physics in setting preferred whale habitat, and integrating physics, biogeochemistry and molecular biology to better understand how ice-ocean interactions support productive marine ecosystems. Finally, I’ll look ahead to the future of the Canadian-Pacific Robotic Ocean Observing Facility, as well as to future ambitions of collaborations with Indigenous communities to co-design research, incorporate traditional knowledge and mobilize oceanographic data.