Meeting Information

Ocean Circulation and Climate

October 15, 2008
American Center for Physics
College Park, MD

Speaker: Barry A. Klinger, Associate Professor, George Mason University, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences 

Topic: Ocean Circulation and Climate

Time and Location:  The talk will start at 1:00 pm with a Q&A session to follow. It will be held in one of the first floor conference rooms at the American Center for Physics, One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD. This is located off River Road, between Kenilworth Ave. and Paint Branch Parkway.

Abstract: Ocean currents have important effects on global climate through their transport and storage of heat, which directly influences atmospheric temperature, and through their influence on global chemical cycles. Ocean circulation may take centuries to respond to a change in forcing, and so is thought to be especially important as one looks at increasingly long climate timescales. Some proxy indicators of paleoclimate and some mechanisms for ocean heat transport will be reviewed. The role of the ocean in climate change at the end of the last Ice Age will be discussed. A key ocean circulation feature in this history is the deep meridional overturning circulation. Open questions about the role of the overturning in future climate change will then be surveyed.

SB., physics, MIT, 1985           
Ph.D., physical oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and MIT, 1992.           
Postdoctoral Associate, MIT,1992-1994           
Assistant Professor, Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center, 1994-2000           
Associate Professor, George Mason University, 2000-present

After doing undergraduate research in astrophysics and space physics, I started thinking that maybe the planet I wanted to study was Earth. I never heard of the field of physical oceanography until the last month of my senior year in college, when I looked for a job in the meteorology department and ended up getting hired by a physical oceanographer there. For my PhD, I did laboratory studies in which a rotating tank of water simulated the ocean. Now I focus on numerical modeling of the large-scale circulation of the ocean. I try to understand how the basic laws of physics determine large-scale ocean currents and how much heat they transport. I have taught numerous courses at several levels in physical oceanography, climate, and geophysical fluid dynamics. I am also the Graduate Coordinator for the Climate Dynamics Department at George Mason University.