Science on Tap Lecture by Dr. Jacob Wenegrat 11/15/2022
Science on Tap Lecture
Dr. Jacob Wenegrat
Title: The Gulf Stream: Barrier, Blender...or Breadmaker?
The Gulf Stream carries more water than all the rivers on Earth combined, transporting heat from low latitudes northward and serving as the boundary between the north Atlantic Ocean gyres. Sailors have recognized its importance for hundreds of years—dubbing it the ‘Storm King’ and ‘Weather Breeder’—although the understanding of its dynamics was only developed in the latter half of the 20 th century. In this talk, I will cover the basic physics of why there is a Gulf Stream in the first place, its importance in the mid-Atlantic Ocean circulation, and whether it can ‘shut down’ as often catastrophized in popular media. The results of a recent oceanographic field study using multiple research vessels and autonomous platforms will also be surveyed, with a focus on how small, but intense, ‘ocean storms’ can lead to mixing across the Gulf Stream’s north wall, a newly identified aspect of the circulation that may play an important role in the ocean’s biological productivity in this region.
Jacob Wenegrat is a physical oceanographer and an assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Science at the University of Maryland. His research focuses on the geophysical fluid dynamics of the ocean submesoscale—horizontal scales where both planetary rotation and nonlinearity are important—with recent work on flow-topography interaction, multi-scale ocean dynamics, and air-sea interaction. Jacob is an associate editor for the Journal of Physical Oceanography, a member of the US CLIVAR Process Study & Model Improvement Panel, and a member of the science team for the NASA Earth Venture Suborbital Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment. He has a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Washington. More info about his work and group can be found at wenegrat.github.io.
Contact: Abby Robinson