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Physical Oceanography

Research group

Short description

Marine Physics (aka Physical Oceanography) is the Earth science concerned with the description of the physical state of the ocean. This includes the study of physical processes controlling the motion and properties of ocean waters and the influence of the ocean on the atmosphere and the climate.

At the Department of Marine Sciences, world-class research is being made to further our knowledge and understanding of how the global ocean operates and how it varies on different time and spatial scales, from the smallest turbulent eddies to the world ocean circulation.

The Department offers one of the most comprehensive environment in Europe to carry out research in Physical Oceanography, with access to marine infrastructures such as the state-of-the-art R/V Skagerak II and the marine station Kristineberg.

In the Marine Physics group, we study physical processes controlling the motion and properties of ocean waters and the influence it has on the marine environment as well as on the climate. Marine physics has a special place in marine sciences because of the strong control of physical processes on the biogeochemical environment extending from the coastal to open ocean. The ocean is an integral component of the weather and climate system and is currently experiencing rapid changes as the impact of anthropogenic activities on the climate increases. Large uncertainties on the fate of the Earth climate are associated with our (lack of) knowledge about the ocean state, motivating broad research efforts in Marine Physics.

As any physical science, marine physics draws mainly on mathematics to build theories and models to represent the complex ocean system. Marine physics rely heavily on a combination of integrated observing systems (both satellite and in situ) and numerical simulations done on supercomputers to build a comprehensive picture of the ocean circulation and its variability.

These models can then be used to gain understanding on the physical ocean system and are central to the production of numerical weather predictions and of climate projections.
Currently, the Marine Physics group forms the biggest concentration of expertise in autonomous observing platforms in Sweden, operating an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV, link), several Sea Gliders (link) and deploying animal-borne ocean sensors (link).

These instruments are used to extend the reach of conventional observing systems in poorly-known regions such as the Southern and Arctic oceans, or in coastal areas. Activities in marine physics include as well a strong numerical modelling component, running regional and global ocean models to facilitate interpretation of observations and learn about the main driving forces controlling ocean properties.

The Marine Physics group is involved in a large variety of research efforts and international programs, and contributes to the lively academic environment of the seafaring city of Gothenburg (link).

Research topics

Ocean - sea ice interaction
Marine plastic dispersal
Southern Ocean climate variability
Arctic oceanography
Oman Sea oceanography
Wave energy converters
Global overturning circulation
Mixed layer dynamics
Baltic Sea dynamics