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

Navy funds a small robot army to study the Arctic


15 Feb 2015

Climate change is causing the Arctic Ocean to thaw. The Navy is paying researchers to develop gliders and other gizmos, and stick them in and near the ice, because it needs to figure out how quickly the thaw is coming.

UW Robotic Gliders Deploy for Arctic Ice Study

KING 5 News,

25 Jul 2014

Despite years of focus on melting Arctic sea ice, research models predicting how it changes are lacking. Getting the physics right is now the focus of a $12 million project funded by the US Office of Naval Research. The first-of-its-kind study began in March and ends in September.

Tracking the breakup of Arctic summer sea ice

UW News and Information,

16 Jul 2014

As sea ice begins to melt back toward its late September minimum, it is being watched as never before. Scientists have put sensors on and under ice in the Beaufort Sea for an unprecedented campaign to monitor the summer melt.

Recent Papers

Farrar, J.T., L. Rainville, A.J. Plueddemann, W.S. Kessler, C. Lee, B.A. Hodges, R.W. Schmitt, J.B. Edson, S.C. Riser, C.C. Eriksen, and D.M. Fratantoni, "Salinity and temperature balances at the SPURS central mooring during fall and winter," Oceanography, 28, 56-65, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2015.06, 2015.

1 Mar 2015, Link

Riser, S.C., J. Anderson, A. Shcherbina, and E.D'Asaro, "Variability in near-surface salinity from hours to decades in the eastern North Atlantic: The SPURS region," Oceanography, 28, 66-77, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2015.11, 2015.

1 Mar 2015, Link

Shcherbina, A.Y., E.A. D'Asaro, S.C. Riser, and W.S. Kessler, "Variability and interleaving of upper-ocean water masses surrounding the North Atlantic salinity maximum," Oceanography, 28, 106-113, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2015.12, 2015.

1 Mar 2015, Link