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Surface boundary layer dynamics

Characterized 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.
Using the Baltic Sea as a natural laboratory, with high-resolution observational and numerical approaches we study the SBL dynamics at relatively small spatial and temporal scales; down to horizontal scales of 1-10 km and time scales of hours to days i.e., submesoscales. Submesoscales are abundant in the SBL in the form of vortices, fronts and, filaments, with an ability to change the upper ocean stratification, affect vertical transport, and induce a downscale cascade of energy towards dissipation. Our group focuses on understanding the interplay of physical processes in the SBL such as salinity inversions, subduction, a relatively new class of turbulent motion abundant in the SBL i.e., submesoscale turbulence, under varying climate forcing. This research is part of the project Energy transfers in Atmosphere and Ocean (TRR181). Our working group is in close collaboration with the group of turbulence and small-scale processes.

Frontal quantities indicative of the submesoscale regime (from Chrysagi et al. 2021).
High-resolution salinity and temperature observations from the Central Baltic Sea on July 13th 2012 (from Basdurak et al. 2021)

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