Mark Halverson

Research Associate

ESB 3043-2
(604) 827-2377

I am a physical oceanographer interested in using observations to study coastal ocean circulation.  In particular, I am interested in the dynamics and mixing of river plumes, and in the circulation of semi-enclosed systems (ie the Strait of Georgia or Prince William Sound.  

My research at UBC is focused on the near-surface dynamics of the lower Strait of Georgia.  In particular, I am intersted in combining HF radar velocity measurements with ship-of-opportunity observations to learn more about the dynamics of the Fraser River plume.  The research is part of the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR).  In fact this is highly related to my PhD work, which was to use ship-of-opportunity data to study mixing in the Fraser River plume, and to study how the plume impacts phytoplankton biomass.

I also have an interest in the application of complex network theory in the earth sciences.  Complex network analysis has been applied to a wide range of problems, from finance to social networks to ecology, but it has been (in my opinion) under-utilized in the earth sciences.  With Sean Fleming of Environment Canada, I applied complex network theory to a system of streamflow gauges in the Coast Mountains to explore whether this technique could aid in the design of sampling networks.  However, many questions remain...

I also retain an interest in the physical oceanography of Prince William Sound, which I studied while I was an oceanographer at the Prince William Sound Science Center in Cordova, AK.  I was involved in numerous projects in and around Prince William Sound:

In July 2009, I took part in a multi-PI model validation exercise in Prince William Sound called Sound Predictions 2009 (as I explain here:  We literally threw everything we could at the ocean - three ctds, 44 drifting buoys, one in-line thermosalinograph, three near-shore moorings, one glider, one ROV, bottle chemistry, zoop net tows, HF radar, and at least three numerical models.  My part of this project was to contribute hydrographic and drifiting buoy data.  From this data I wrote a paper called, "Disruption of a cyclonic eddy circulation by wind stress in Prince William Sound, Alaska," to be published in the upcoming special supplemental issue of Continental Shelf Research titled Coastal Ocean Observing Systems: Retrospective Reanalysis and Real-Time Forecasting.

The second major project was to maintain a series of moorings deployed in the major straits connecting Prince William Sound to the Gulf of Alaska.  I then processed the data and used it to prepare two papers on the tidal, subtidal, and seasonal water exchange between the two systems.  

Finally, with the help of Dave Musgrave at UAF, a database of CTD and XBT profiles taken in PWS was assembled.  We then wrote a paper to describe the seasonal surface water properties of PWS, and to quantify the energy required to mix the upper water column with application to oil spill response.  

  • PhD Physical Oceanography (2009) - University of British Columbia
  • MSc Astronomy (2002) - University of Wisconsin
  • BSc, Summa Cum Laude, Astrophysics (2000)- University of Minnesota 
  • BSc, Summa Cum Laude, Physics (2000) - University of Minnesota


Halverson MJ, Pawlowicz R. 2016. Tide, wind, and river forcing of the surface currents in the Fraser River plume. Atmosphere-Ocean. 54:131-152.



Halverson MJ, Pawlowicz R. 2016. Tide, wind, and river forcing of the surface currents in the Fraser River plume. Atmosphere-Ocean. 54:131-152.


Halverson MJ, Fleming S.W. 2015. Complex network theory, streamflow, and hydrometric monitoring system design. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. 19:3301–3318.


Halverson MJ. 2014. Atmospheric and tidal forcing of the exchange between Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska. Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans. 65:86-106.


Halverson MJ, Pawlowicz R. 2013. High-resolution observations of chlorophyll-a biomass from an instrumented ferry: Influence of the Fraser River plume from 2003 to 2006. Cont. Shelf Res.. 59:52-64.

Farrara JD, Chao Y, Li Z, Wang X, Jin X, Zhang H, Li P, Vu Q, Olsson PQ, G. Schoch C et al.. 2013. A data-assimilative ocean forecasting system for the Prince William Sound and an evaluation of its performance during Sound Predictions 2009. Continental Shelf Research. 63, Supplement:S193-S208.

Halverson MJ, Bélanger C, Gay, III SM. 2013. Seasonal transport through the straits connecting Prince William Sound to the Gulf of Alaska. Cont. Shelf Res.. 63, Supplement:S63-S78.

Halverson MJ, J. Ohlmann C, Johnson MA, W. Pegau S. 2013. Disruption of a cyclonic eddy circulation by wind stress in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Cont. Shelf. Res.. 63, Supplement:S13-S25.

Musgrave DL, Halverson MJ, W. Pegau S. 2013. Seasonal surface circulation, temperature, and salinity in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Cont Shelf Res. 53:20-29.


Halverson MJ, Pawlowicz R. 2011. Entrainment and flushing time in the Fraser River estuary and plume from a steady salt balance analysis. J. Geophys. Res.. 116


Halverson MJ. 2009. Multi-timescale analysis of the salinity and algal biomass of the Fraser River plume from repeated ferry transects


Pawlowicz R, Riche O., Halverson MJ. 2007. The circulation and residence time of the Strait of Georgia using a simple mixing-box approach. Atmos. Ocean. 45:173-193.


Hester J.J, Mori K., Burrows D., Gallagher J.S, Graham J.R, Halverson MJ, Kader A., Michel F.C, Scowen P.. 2002. Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra Monitoring of the Crab Synchrotron Nebula. The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 577:L49.