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
SWIFT Tests in Arctic Waters
Graduate student researcher Seth Zippel tests SWIFT (Surface Wave Instrument Float with Tracking) performance in the Arctic in advance of planned missions to be conducted in summer 2014 during the Marginal Ice Zone experiments. More >>
Depth, or bathymetry, is a key variable to understand how to navigate safely in a shallow water environment and it is also key to predicting the currents and waves. DARLA will help determine the extent to which data assimilation models, that are initialized and constrained with remote sensing and in situ measurements, can infer bathymetry. More >>
Marginal Ice Zone Program
An integrated program of observations and numerical simulations will focus on understanding iceoceanatmosphere dynamics in and around the MIZ, with particular emphasis on quantifying changes associated with decreasing ice cover. The MIZ measurement program will employ a novel mix of autonomous technologies (ice-based instrumentation, floats, drifters, and gliders) to characterize the processes that govern Beaufort Sea MIZ evolution from initial breakup and MIZ formation though the course of the summertime sea ice retreat. More >>
Sea State and Boundary Layer Physics of the Emerging Arctic Ocean
This ONR Departmental Research Initiative is in response to the observed decline in Arctic sea ice extent. The U.S. Navy has a renewed interest in understanding and predicting the environment in this region, including a desire to forecast the presence or absence of sea ice at a variety of lead times. More >>
Turbulence Generated by Tides in the Canal de Chacao, Chile
At a proposed tidal energy conversion site in southern Chile, APL-UW researchers measured the magnitude and scales of turbulence to aid the design of turbines for the site and to understand the fundamental dynamics of flows through the channel. More >>
In the News
Huge waves in the Arctic demonstrate ice loss and aggravate it
Slate, Eric Holthaus
1 Aug 2014
The house-sized waves measured by oceanographer Jim Thomson and his research team during a Beaufort Sea storm in 2012 are bigger than any seen before in that part of the Arctic, where it's warmer now than at any point since humans began living there 44,000 or so years ago. Previously, there was just too much ice for waves to form.
Sixteen-foot swells reported in once-frozen region of Arctic Ocean
The Washington Post, Fred Barbash
30 Jul 2014
The fact that researchers have now measured swells of more than 16 feet in the Arctic's Beaufort Sea, just north of Alaska, is a bit of a stunner. Swells of that size, researchers say, have the potential to break up Arctic ice even faster than the melt underway there for decades thanks to rapid global warming.
Belka, D.J., M. Schwendeman, J. Thomson, and M.F. Cronin, "Historical Wave and Wind Observations at Ocean Station P," Technical Report, APL-UW TR 1407, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, August 2014, 15 pp.
1 Aug 2014, Link
Rusch, C., J. Thomson, S. Zippel, and M. Schwendeman, "Video recognition of breaking waves," Proc., OCEANS'14, 14-19 September, St. John's, Newfoundland (MTS/IEEE, 2014).
15 Jul 2014
Dushaw, B.D., "Assessing the horizontal refraction of ocean acoustic tomography signals using high-resolution ocean state estimates," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 136, 122-129, doi:10.1121/1.4881928, 2014.
1 Jul 2014, Link