Skip to main content
Labrador sea ice
Physical Oceanography

About our research

Find out more about our research efforts and interests.

Research areas we focus on with scientists across the world

Our research addresses major societal issues, including:

  • the role of ocean circulation on the global climate system
  • the influence of ocean-atmosphere coupling on climate variability and change
  • how to forecast water levels, currents, winds, salinity and water temperatures
  • interactions between physical and biogeochemical processes in shelf seas
  • the impact of sea-level rise and flooding on the coast communities and ecosystems

Our specific research efforts include:

  • understanding why the ocean is changing regionally and globally, with a focus on water masses, currents and mixing, the impact on the climate, and ecosystems
  • investigating the processes determining the rate, structure and climatic role of the global overturning circulation
  • determining the impact of the retreating cryosphere on ocean circulation, sea level and climate variability
  • reducing the uncertainty in climate models and using efficient Earth model systems to quantify the impact of carbon and climate feedbacks on future warming and sea ice retreat
  • exploring methodologies for increasing resilience to environmental hazards
  • developing techniques to continuously monitor or collect high spatial and temporal resolution data

Equipment and technology for oceanography research

Our research is underpinned by technologies such as:

  • novel shipboard instruments
  • moorings
  • floats
  • remotely operated vehicles
  • autonomous underwater vehicles

We use these to measure key ocean processes and explore patterns of change and variability in satellite and measurements of surface temperature, sea level and productivity. Alongside this, we develop and use a wide range of coastal, ocean and climate models to test new hypotheses, predict climate change, and explore the role of the ocean in the wider Earth system.

Equipment and facilities for open ocean observation

Our researchers observe the open ocean using the National Oceanography Centre’s largest pool of marine scientific equipment in Europe. Modellers in our group have access to workstations, racks and high-memory machines alongside an on-site Mobilis 1152 core HPC and the UKRI Advanced Research Computing High End Resource.

We use the vessel R.V. Callista that is available for researchers and students of ocean and Earth science.

The oceanographic equipment we deploy on this vessel includes:  

  • 2 conductivity temperate and pressure (CTP) systems 
  • acoustic doppler current profilers (ADCPs)  
  • a towed undulating CTD system