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Seminar Series – Dr. Dana Savidge: The Problem of Scale and the Future of Physical Oceanography
September 30, 2022 @ 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Dr. Dana Savidge, University of Georgia
The Problem of Scale and the Future of Physical Oceanography
Modern physical oceanographers enjoy an embarrassment of riches, with broadly available high-quality high resolution data streams and increasingly detailed and accurate modeling capabilities. Yet a dawning appreciation of the importance of finer scale circulation features and the necessity in studying them can seem at odds with more established methods of investigation at the mesoscale and larger. There are significant challenges in how to capitalize on new capabilities, in ways that preserve strong inference. This puzzle will be discussed in the context of the South Atlantic Bight continental shelf. This shelf is known for high productivity in summer, associated with Gulf Stream meander induced intrusions of cold, nutrient rich waters from under the Gulf Stream proper. Large volumes of shelf waters are also known to be exported from this shelf to the open ocean, including in summer, when such volumes might contain high organic carbon loads associated with the meander induced nutrient supplies. Yet despite these known features, this shelf is uncategorized as either a source or sink of atmospheric CO2, as a net accumulator or dispenser of organic carbon from the adjacent estuarine systems or deep ocean, and its contribution as a component of the ‘shelf pump’ remains unquantified. This is due in large measure to the wide range of scales in circulation features affecting these topics, along with the difficulty in either measuring or modeling this large region effectively in the past. Strategies for making progress will be outlined.