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What lies beneath: Internal waves in the nearshore coastal environment

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DC - William G. Davis Computer Research Centre

University of Waterloo

Room 1302

Waterloo, ON

Canada

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As part of the Water Institute's WaterTalks lecture series, Ryan Walter, assistant professor in the Physics Department at California Polytechnic State University, presents, "What lies beneath: Internal waves in the nearshore coastal environment."

Light refreshments will be provided.

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The nearshore coastal environment is generally taken to be one of the most productive and ecologically important parts of the ocean. The intense productivity of the nearshore is shaped by physical processes occurring on a wide range of spatiotemporal scales. In many systems, one of the dominant drivers of variability is due to the widespread and often irregular occurrence of internal waves, waves that propagate underneath the surface of the ocean along density layers. These waves, similar to surface waves, eventually break in shallow waters and often appear more bore-like than wave-like. In effect, the nearshore coastal ocean can be thought of as the “internal swash zone.” Internal waves and bores have considerable implications for the cross-shelf exchange and transport of nutrients, sediments, contaminants, larvae, and pollutants; turbulent dissipation and diapycnal mixing; and hypoxia development. Despite the ramifications and a growing body of literature on the subject, many questions still remain with respect to the evolution, fate, and impact of internal waves in nearshore ecosystems. This talk addresses some of these questions using high-resolution field measurements and numerical modeling efforts.

Speaker bio

Ryan Walter is an assistant professor in the Physics Department at California Polytechnic State University. He received his B.S. degree from Cornell University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. His research interests are in the field of environmental fluid mechanics, and involve the application of fluid mechanics principles to the study of flow and transport processes in the environment. His research focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of environmental fluid mechanics and specifically how various physical processes affect ecosystem health and biological processes in environmental systems. His current research projects include investigating shallow water internal wave dynamics, physical drivers of nearshore hypoxia in coastal embayments, scenarios for offshore renewable (wind) energy along the California coast, and the role that estuarine hydrodynamics play in shaping seagrass systems in a local estuary. He also runs an ocean observing network along the Central California Coast.

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DC - William G. Davis Computer Research Centre

University of Waterloo

Room 1302

Waterloo, ON

Canada

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