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

UW, NOAA deploy ocean robot to monitor harmful algal blooms off Washington coast

UW News and Information,

25 May 2016

John Mickett, an oceanographer at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory, led the deployment of the new instrument with Stephanie Moore, a scientist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, as part of a larger collaborative project.

Buoy deployed in Bellingham Bay to chart health of Puget Sound

KING 5 News,

11 Feb 2016

Oceanographers deployed a buoy in Bellingham Bay on Thursday that will chart the health of Puget Sound. It joins a half-dozen other buoys, but this is the only one in the north Puget Sound. It is equipped with several pieces of advanced technology that will monitor everything from salinity, temperature and weather changes.

Voyage traces stirred-up Arctic heat


28 Sep 2015

Using a gadget developed by UW's Applied Physics Laboratory, oceanographers have gathered evidence that turbulence in the Arctic Ocean is stirring up heat from the depths.

Recent Papers

Lee, C.M., et al., "Stratified Ocean Dynamics in the Arctic: Science and Experiment Plan," APL-UW TR 1601, Technical Report, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, September 2016, 46pp.

15 Sep 2016, Link

Voet, G., M.H. Alford, J.B. Virton, G.S. Carter, J.B. Miskent, and J.M. Klymak, "Warming and weakening of the abyssale flow through Samoan Passage," J. Phys. Oceanogr., 46, 2389-2401, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-16-0063.1, 2016.

1 Aug 2016, Link

Zhao, Z., "Using CryoSat-2 altimeter data to evaluate M2 internal tides observed from multisatellite altimetry," J. Geophys. Res., EOR, doi:10.1002/2016JC011805, 2016.

30 Jul 2016, Link