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Estuarine dynamics

Classical estuaries are the brackish water bodies that result from turbulent mixing between river water and coastal ocean water, yielding inflowing saline water and outflowing brackish water. In contrast, inverse estuaries transform inflowing ocean water, by means of dominant evaporation, into outflowing hypersaline water. We investigate and quantify the underlying hydrodynamic processes and their interactions, using analytical theory and numerical modelling.

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Surface boundary layer dynamics

tl_files/phy/ag-burchard/img/research/sbl_dynamics_chrysagi2021.pngCharacterized by a relatively weak density stratification, the Surface Boundary Layer (SBL) plays a critical role in ocean circulation connecting the atmosphere to the ocean interior, transporting energy, mass and momentum, and controlling the majority of oceanic primary productivity. Due to the complex nature of physical processes in the SBL at different temporal and spatial scales, the interactions between different processes and the transport pathways are not fully-understood yet.

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Sea level dynamics

Sea level variability could not only affect the air-sea exchanges via surface ocean dynamics but also risk the coastal communities/cities from hazards such as inundation, erosion and retreat. Changes of sea level are governed by various processes on small to large scales, both in space and time, e.g., wind waves, tides, meteo tsunamis, storm surges, mean sea level rise etc. We study these sea level changes as well as their interaction with hydrodynamics, turbulence and sediment transport in estuaries and coastal seas.

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Sediment transport

Sediment transport is one of the most critical issues in eco-environmental systems either in fluvial and estuarine environment or in coastal systems. It is not uncommon that the different sediment particles, from mud to gravel, are existing in one coastal system, in which these wide range of sediments could also interact with each other. Our study focused on the sediment dynamics across the estuaries and coasts based on process-based numerical modelling where their interactions between coastal and estuarine dynamics are included, associated with the impacts from wave shoaling and propagation and sea level dynamics.

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Ice-Ocean interactions

Polar regions are strongly affected by global warming and heat up rapidly under anthropogenic climate change.  In consequence, the ice in Greenland and Antarctica melts with increasing rates, which is a major contributor to global sea level rise.  We study the melting of glacial ice tongues that flow into the ocean and are thus not only melted by the sun from above, but also from below due to processes at the ice–ocean interface.

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Model development and diagnostics

tl_files/phy/ag-burchard/getm/getm_component.pngCoastal oceans are complex ecosystems. Their description requires an interdisciplinary approach. In addition to detailed measurements, realistic model simulations are necessary to understand the sophisticated interplay of all relevant processes. For this we develop advanced model techniques and diagnostics.

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