AIRS Research Areas
Graduate and undergraduate students who wish to study the intersection of atmospheric sciences, oceanography, and engineering at the Applied Physics Laboratory may work with AIRS advisors who have joint apointments in UW academic departments. More >>
Graduate student Michael Schwendeman worked with advisor Jim Thomson to track and measure breaking waves in the North Pacific during an expedition to Ocean Station Papa. Mike's blog chronicled the research cruise.
What We Do
The Air-Sea Interaction and Remote Sensing (AIRS) Department is a diverse group of scientists, engineers, technical support staff, and students that conducts research focused on the air-sea interface by using a wide variety of remote sensing techniques.
Our interests range from the global scale of climate change and ocean circulation to the smallest scales of the physics of air-sea heat and gas exchange.
Our remote sensing tools also span a wide range of scalesfrom satellite remote sensing, to field experiments using surface and airborne platforms, and to laboratory experiments in wave tanks. Remote sensing instruments used include electro-optical sensors (microwave, infrared, and laser) and acoustic sensors (sonars and hydrophones).
Air-Sea Interaction and
Storm Chasing in the North Pacific
AIRS scientists set out to the open ocean in search of very rough weather intense wind and large waves to study the balance of wind and wave energy that will ultimately be used to improve notoriously unreliable wave forecasts. More >>
Crimson Tide in the Columbia River Estuary
Our autonomous undersea vehicle operation mapped the September 2012 outbreak of the non-toxic phytoplankton Mesodinium rubrum. This study of Columbia River ecology is conducted in collaboration with the Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction (CMOP) Science and Technology Center. More >>
Modeling CFC and SF6 Mixed Layer Boundary Conditions
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) are tracers that enter the ocean surface mixed layer through air-sea gas exchange and are then transported into the ocean interior. Because of their long time-scale evolution, these tracers are used to estimate ocean interior ventilation time scales as well as anthropogenic carbon uptake by the ocean. More >>
In the News
A tide of local influences
The New York Times Scientist at Work Blog, Jim Thomson
27 Feb 2013
Principal Oceanographer Jim Thomson blogs from the Canal de Chacao in Chile. His research team is measuring the tidal turbulence in the channel to determine if the area is suitable for power generating turbine installation.
Noisy ships, ferries create racket below Puget Sound
The Seattle Times, Craig Welch
3 Jan 2013
Recent work by University of Washington researchers shows noise in some Puget Sound shipping channels regularly meets or exceeds levels the federal government suggests may be harmful to marine life.
Heading home, and hanging ten
The New York Times, Jim Thomson
17 Oct 2012
Principal Oceanographer Jim Thomson and his research team set out in the North Pacific in hopes of finding big storms and big waves. His NY Times "Scientist at Work" blog chronicles their search for the big waves and what the instruments they deploy into them tell us about the turbulence created by breaking waves in the open ocean.
Farquharson, G., P. López-Dekker, and S.J. Frasier, "Contrast-based phase calibration for remote sensing systems with digital beamforming antennas," IEEE Trans. Geosci. Remote Sens., 51, 1744-1754, doi:10.1109/TGRS.2012.2205695, 2013.
1 Mar 2013, Link
Sonnerup, R.E., S. Mecking, and J.L. Bullister, "Transit time distributions and oxygen utilization rates in the Northeast Pacific Ocean from chlorofluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride," Deep-Sea Res. I, 72, 61-71, doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2012.10.013, 2013.
1 Feb 2013, Link
Thomson, J., "Wave breaking dissipation observed by SWIFT drifters," J. Atmos. Ocean. Technol., 29, 1866-1882, doi:10.1175/JTECH-D-12-00018.1, 2012.
1 Dec 2012, Link