Professor Robert Marsh has extensive experience of observing and modelling the oceans and climate. In current projects and collaborations, he applies knowledge of ocean state (e.g., temperature), ocean currents and surface weather to pressing environmental challenges. Specifically, he is developing systems for monitoring and forecasting the extent of sargassum seaweed across the tropical Atlantic. This work is designed to inform decision-makers and local communities who have been recently challenged by extensive beaching of sargassum at coastlines around the Caribbean and west Africa. He is also investigating links between the Arctic and our mid-latitudes, where some weather extremes may be attributed to rapid warming and sea ice decline. In other research directions, he investigates the drivers of year-to-year variations in Atlantic hurricane seasons, towards better seasonal forecasts, and the long-term changes in Indian monsoon climate of consequence for aquaculture.
I teach across oceanography and climate, with a strong emphasis on the use of observational and model datasets. The two modules that I teach - Shelf Seas and Shelf Edge Dynamics (SOES3009/6080); Large Scale Ocean Processes and Climate (SOES3010/6005) - are largely covered in a new textbook, Ocean Currents: Physical Drivers in a Changing World (Marsh, R., and E. van Sebille, 2021, Elsevier, 380 pp).
Through both modules, I make extensive practical use of Lagrangian calculations of virtual particle trajectories, to explore how the ocean moves and disperses heat, salt, and other material or organisms. In SOES3010/6005, I also introduce and use the novel water mass transformation framework to explore the role of the ocean in climate change, extended to the hydrological cycle. Throughout both modules, I emphasize the application of fundamental knowledge about the ocean to a wide range of themes, including the recent sargassum crisis in the tropical Atlantic, ‘subtropicalization’ of the North Sea, and dramatic changes in the Arctic.