Physical Oceanography

Our group focuses on water motion in estuaries and on continental shelves and shelf-breaks, along with the associated transport of buoyancy, suspended particles, nutrients, and pollutants.

Physical oceanography at VIMS is extremely interdisciplinary, with ongoing collaboration with chemists and geologists within our department, biologists and resource managers elsewhere at VIMS, and scientists from various disciplines throughout the country and world. Cooperative research projects are underway with scientists from countries including Korea, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and the U.K.

We have ongoing field projects in Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries as well as on the continental shelves of North America (including the Arctic Ocean) and other continents, and are applying 3-dimensional numerical models to study circulation and associated dissolved and particulate transport in estuarine and shelf environments.

Research Areas

Major focal areas include:

  • 3-D modeling of estuarine sediment transport and water quality,
  • association of density- and tidally-driven estuarine circulation patterns with the fate and transport of pollutants,
  • boundary-current dynamics,
  • dynamics of estuarine fronts,
  • dynamics of the shelf-break front and flow over submarine canyons,
  • effects of stratification on the bottom boundary layer,effects of stratification on the bottom boundary layer,
  • physics of sediment transport on shelves and in the surf zone,
  • shelf-basin exchange processes,
  • wind- and buoyancy-driven circulation on the inner shelf, and
  • wind-wave evolution in estuaries and on shelves.
Funding Sources

Funding sources include the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Commonwealth of Virginia, the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Office of Naval Research, and Sea Grant.

Contact Us
Physical Sciences / VIMS
P.O. Box 1346, Gloucester Pt., VA  23062-1346, USA
Telephone:  804-684-7268;  FAX:  804-684-7293