Studying how wave turbulence affects ocean colour


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This research project seeks to investigate the relationship between wave turbulence and ocean colour

The goals of this project are to explore:

  1. The effect of wave-induced turbulence on oceanic biogeochemistry.
  2. How ocean colour responds to the changing wave climate.

The details

We know that the sea gets its colour due to the absorption and scattering of light. But could the ocean’s colour also change depending on how calm it is? The researchers undertaking this project wish to discover the answer.

The role of surface waves becomes substantial in the upper ocean layer mixing. The interaction of ocean waves and turbulence is a fundamental process in the ocean. Furthermore, available laboratory and field observations are limited mainly due to the difficulty in measuring turbulence within a wave field, particularly in the region above the wave trough. In addition, important upper ocean parameters change, due to the turbulence induced by surface waves. These include the lowering of the sea surface temperature (SST) and the deepening of mixed layer depth (MLD).

Waves also affect how nutrients are supplied to tiny plants in the ocean. These plants called phytoplankton, form the basis of the ocean's ecosystem. The presence of phytoplankton can also alter how light is absorbed and scattered, changing the colour of the water. We can study the effects of wave-induced turbulence on oceanic biogeochemistry. This includes how turbulence affects phytoplankton numbers. Then we can determine the relationship between the calmness of the ocean and the colour of its water.

Graduate researcher profile: Chinglen Meetei Tensubam

Chinglen Meetei Tensubam

What did you do before you started your PhD?

After the completion of my masters degree in 2017, I worked as a research assistant under Professor Mihir Kumar Dash at IIT Kharagpur. We worked on the project "Estimation of internal solitary wave propagation speed in the Andaman Sea using multi-satellite images." Our research output can be found here: DOI:10.1016/j.rse.2020.112123

What are the challenges of your research role? Completing a joint PhD has challenges.

I didn't have much experience in numerical modelling before I commenced my joint PhD, so learning about global ocean models was initially a bit challenging. However, I have become proficient in this area over the course of my PhD.

What is the best part of your research role?

The best part of my research role is the opportunity to develop expertise in two broad topics - ocean waves (at the University of Melbourne) and ocean colour (at IIT Kharagpur). Furthermore, being able to share knowledge with different researchers from two beautiful countries (India and Australia) is a wonderful experience.

Where do you wish to go after your PhD? Do you want to enter industry or continue doing more research?

After completion of my PhD, I wish to continue my research further. Therefore, I would like to do my postdoc on a cutting-edge research project.

Supervision team

First published on 22 March 2022.

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