OPD Research Areas


Mixing sets the temperature and salinity structure of the ocean and the distribution of chemical species…


Circulation, from small estuaries to entire ocean basins, is critical in a variety of processes…


Mixing and circulation help regulate ocean productivity and ecosystems…


Technology plays a critical role in oceanographic research…

Instruments & Sensors

See what we design, build and use in our research…

Educational Opportunities

Graduate students in the Ocean Physics Department take their coursework through an academic department at the UW, while pursuing research projects with a faculty advisor in OPD. Students are offered the opportunity to experience the entire life cycle of sea-going research projects, including experiment planning, participation in research cruises, data processing, scientific analysis and the presentation of results at national and international meetings.  More >>
Current Students >>

What We Do

OPD investigators pursue research focused primarily on small-scale and meso-scale oceanographic processes, design and build unique instruments to facilitate these studies, and educate undergraduate and graduate students through instruction and employment.

Basic and Applied Research Push Seaglider's Capabilities

Seaglider offers depth, versatility, and persistence at an operating cost far less than an ocean research vessel. People should like them because they're really cool, but they do like them because they're comparatively inexpensive. In May 2013, UW's Center for Commercialization licensed the manufacture of Seagliders to Kongsberg Underwater Technology, Inc., granting them sole rights to produce, market, and continue the development of Seaglider technology.  More >>

Marginal Ice Zone Program

An integrated program of observations and numerical simulations will focus on understanding ice–ocean–atmosphere dynamics in and around the MIZ, with particular emphasis on quantifying changes associated with decreasing ice cover. The MIZ measurement program will employ a novel mix of autonomous technologies (ice-based instrumentation, floats, drifters, and gliders) to characterize the processes that govern Beaufort Sea MIZ evolution from initial breakup and MIZ formation though the course of the summertime sea ice retreat.  More >>

Deep-Sea Rescue of Valuable Research Instruments

The subsurface mooring component of the Northwest Enhanced Moored Observatory (NEMO) had to be rescued by a ROV piloted by APL-UW engineers. Extensive crevice corrosion from a longer-than-expected deployment was behind the acoustic release failures. More >>

In the News

Puget Sound's rich waters supplied by deep, turbulent canyon

UW News and Information,

14 Apr 2014

The headwaters for Puget Sound%u2019s famously rich waters lie far below the surface, in a submarine canyon that draws nutrient-rich water up from the deep ocean. New measurements may explain how the Pacific Northwest%u2019s inland waters are able to support so many shellfish, salmon runs and even the occasional pod of whales.

Scientists say a deep canyon feeds Puget Sound

King5 News (Seattle),

14 Apr 2014

University of Washington researchers said they are astounded by the volume of deep sea water that is flowing through an underwater canyon at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Samoan Passage cruise on the R/V Thompson

UW News and Information,

27 Jan 2014

Oceanographers from the University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory are in Samoa for six weeks, the third and final trip studying skyscraper-sized waves that break in a narrow channel in the South Pacific Ocean.

Recent Papers

Henyey, F.S., J.A. Mercer, R.K. Andrew, and A.W. White, "A Method to Determine Small-Scale Internal Wave and Spice Fields from a Single CTD Profile with Application to Three Long-Range Ocean Acoustics Experiments," Technical Memorandum, APL-UW TM 1-14, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, 59 pp.

20 Mar 2014, Link

Alford, M.H., and P. MacCready, "Flow and mixing in Juan de Fuca Canyon, Washington," Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 1608-1615, doi:10.1002/2013GL058967, 2014.

16 Mar 2014, Link

McNeil, C.L. and E.A. D'Asaro, "A calibration equation for oxygen optodes based on physical properties of the sensing foil," Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods, 12:139-154, doi:10.4319/lom.2014.12.139, 2014.

1 Mar 2014, Link