Research Awards Research Awards: INTeRnal waves In angular momeNtum StratifICation (INTRINSIC)
INTeRnal waves In angular momeNtum StratifICation (INTRINSIC)

$ 480,694 awarded to Amit TandonAmit Tandon sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Research Professor Christian E. Buckingham (PI) and Professor AmitTandon (Co-investigator) have been awarded $480,694 for the project, “INTeRnal waves In angular momeNtum StratifICation (INTRINSIC),” by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

An important discovery in the oceanography community has been the realization that centripetal accelerations, or curvature, can modify the stability of fluid parcels within fronts. A portion of this curvature effect is derived from changes in the potential vorticity of the fluid, while another arises from absolute angular momentum—two quantities that are approximately conserved at small horizontal scales in the oceans. Moreover, curvature can be shown to locally modify the frequency, dispersion, and hence propagation of internal waves (IWs). Owing to where such waves lose energy or break, this can have a significant impact on energy, buoyancy, and tracer fluxes between the ocean and atmosphere.

INTRINSIC aims to study this topic by systematically examining a simplified model of a curved front, together with numerical simulations of the same, in order to better understand the dispersion, propagation, and fate of IWs within the ocean. In particular, the project seeks to determine if IW energy is elevated or diminished within fine-scale fronts as a result of curvature. The proposed research will make use of a hierarchy of numerical models, whereby analytical and idealized numerical models are used to inform and facilitate analysis of realistic simulations.

“I am extremely grateful to NSF for recognizing the fundamental nature of this research and its potential to improve, not only our understanding of the oceans, but Earth system models, as well,” said Buckingham. “This is also a recognition of the quality of work that is performed at the University and the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST). Professor Tandon, together with his students & postdocs at UMassD, have been at the forefront of research in upper ocean physics for many years and I am delighted to contribute to this effort."

The project will harness significant advances in computational capabilities at the Center for Scientific Computing & Data Science Research (CSCDR) and a regional High Performance Computing (HPC) cluster, and will additionally impact the academic community through (1) training and mentorship of undergraduates involved in the project and (2) development of a web-based educational tool specific to upper ocean dynamics. 

Buckingham joined UMassD / SMAST in January 2022 and has been supported by seed funding from the Office of Naval Research / UMassD as part of the Marine and UnderSea Technology (MUST) III research program. Buckingham and Tandon are seeking to attract additional resources to the University as part of a broader effort to build a collaboratory to intelligently and autonomously observe the upper ocean. This is Buckingham’s first NSF grant since his arrival from Europe and additional proposals between the two faculty are planned.

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