Jay Austin

Assistant Professor

Large Lakes Observatory/ Department of Physics

University of Minnesota, Duluth

Duluth, MN 55812


Ice- a major player in Lake Superior's life

One of my current interests is in the role that ice plays in determining the thermal structure of large lakes. I have recently had a paper accepted for publication on this topic at Geophysical Research Letters, which should be published in March 2007. I gave a talk on this topic at the recent American Society of Limnology and Oceanography conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A copy of the talk can be found here.

The Superior Glider

I'm interested in bringing new technologies to the lake. In March 2007, I will be taking delivery of a Webb Electric glider, the first autonomous underwater glider to be used in the Great Lakes. This will give LLO the ability to operate in Lake Superior under a much wider array of conditions. THis glider was purchasewd with funds provided by the National Science Foundation.

Carbon Dioxide Mooring

Carbon dioxide is interesting for two primary reasons- it is essential for primary productivity and plays a vital role in the Carbon cycle, but is also of great societal interest in that it appears to be playing a role in the unprecedented warming the planet is currently experienceing. We don't know much about how Lake Superior fits into the carbon cycle; this summer, my lab will be deploying a mooring which will measure CO2 levels in both the atmosphere and in the water, allowing us to make an indirect estimate of carbon fluxes into or out of Lake Superior. This work is funded by the University of Minnesota's Grant in Aid Program.

Superior Modeling

Numerical modeling is fun- you can impose your will on a lake or an ocean and see how it responds. I'm currently working on a three-dimensional model of Lake Superior. Katsumi Matsumoto, a researcher at the Twin Cities campus, and his student Brooke White, are busy implementing a carbon cycling submodel into the circulation model. This will give us addeed insight into the spatial and temporal variability of carbon concentrations in the lake.

The Superior Sediment plume

Duluth residents are likely familiar with an odd phenomenon that occurs occasionally- a giant reddish-brown streak across the middle of Superior. I've not found much information about what controls this giant sediment signal. I'm in the process of mounting a high-resolution security camera on the roof of Lake Superior Dormitory, in an attempt to better characterize what sorts of conditions are prevalent when the plume appears. THis will provide useful inromation about cross-shelf transport in the lake, an important phenomenon.

Shelf-Estuary exchange

Before my life as a limnologist, I studied estuaries. I am really interested in how oceanic shelves and estuaries (such as the Chesapeake Bay) communicate with each other. What role does the wind play in determining exchange? I currently have a graduate student and a postdoc working on idealized numerical models of these processes. This work is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Frontal Interactions Near Cape Hatteras (FINCH)

This is a project led by my friend and colleague Dana Savidge of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. The idea was to develop a better understanding of how cross-shelf fronts, like those that can develop in the vicinity of Cape Hatteras, affect cross-shelf transport. We carried out several field experiments in the area in 2004 and 2005. This research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Numerical Modeling in the Classroom

Numerical models are complicated beasts- a half-million lines of FORTRAN code puts the use of these tools well out of reach of all but the most dedicated researchers. I'm currently funded by Minnesota SeaGrant to develop more "user friendly" numerical modeling tools which will allow a student to interact in real time with a fully-resolved numerical model of a system of interest. This is an extension of a completed project, which you can read about here.












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