Physical Oceanography

Physical oceanography, the study of ocean currents and the physical properties of ocean waters, is an integral part of marine research. Working in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, the physical oceanography group conducts numerical modeling studies supported by environmental data collection, to improve model operations.

Our modeling tools include flexible hydrodynamic numerical models such as Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), and Generalized Environmental Modeling System for Surface Waters (GEMSS). The group also works with a number of smaller models appropriate for specific situations such as surface wave studies and discharge studies.

Developing Small-scale Models Targeting Selected Areas

Our backyard is the North Atlantic and Arctic and is therefore the region of main focus for our physical oceanography and modeling group. The group specializes in the development of flexible, high resolution models targeted for diverse applications in localized areas. We tightly integrate numerical model development and testing with field programs designed to obtain site specific, contemporary data. Using best available sampling methods and equipment, our core data collection activities involve synoptic investigations of water currents and hydrography. New data supports the adaptation of generalized models to specific applications and areas. Our advantage of convenient access to the northern seas and European Arctic leads to superior models with better predictive success for this region.

Connecting Ocean Physics and Ecosystem Dynamics

The distribution of lower trophic level marine organisms, such as phyto- and zoo- plankton, is largely determined by water mass properties, such as temperature, salinity, and nutrients in connection with ocean circulation patterns. Our research focuses on the development and use of models to simulate physical-biological coupling and its role in modulating arctic marine ecosystems.

Simulating the Spread of Pollutants and Disease in Coastal Areas

Human activities, such as pollutant discharges, or the spreading of diseases from aquaculture activities, are largely confined to coastal marine areas characterized by complex bottom topography and variable ocean properties. The oceanography group works with high resolution, flexible models to simulate fine-scale ocean dynamics in fjords and along coastlines. The group is developing a number of numerical models to address specific human impacts in coastal waterways. Applications include assessing the water quality of fjords and coastal areas, and sensitivity to discharge sources including chemical pollutants, sewage discharges, and waterborne pathogens.

Akvaplan-niva in Action

Annual accumulation of organic carbon (g/m2) on the sea floor from 4-pipe outlet stemming from a landbased fish hatchery in Grytåga, Vefsn kommune. The positions of the 4 outlets are illustrated with  black circles with white edges. Simulations are performed with the model BENOSS. Depth contours are indicated with an equidistance of 10 m <span>Image by Frank Gaardsted</span>
Maximum current velocities (cm/s) in an area west of Nordkapp, Northern Norway. The simulations are in 2D and the resolution of the model is 100 m. The boundary conditions are tides from AOTIM and 10 m/s wind from the west. The simulations are performed with the ROMS model. <span>Image by Øyvind Levkin</span>
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For More Information

Ole Anders Nøst
Tromsø, Norway

Related Reading

Measuring Copepod Abundance in Deep Water Winter Habitats in the NE Norwegian Sea: Intercomparison of results from Laser Optical Plankton Counter and Multinet

Gaardsted, F., Tande, K.S. and Basedow, S.L. (2010)

Fisheries Oceanography, 19: 480-492.