The focus of research in the Environmental Dynamics Lab (ENDLab) is on using meticulously planned and executed laboratory experiments to obtain insight into all manner of dynamical phenomena, from micro-scale diffusive processes to global-scale oceanic wave fields. The latest experimental techniques are used and advanced in these efforts. To complement this work we pursue theoretical and analytical modeling, either in-house or through collaborations. Finally, we regularly participate in field studies for ocean-related problems, with members of our lab recently heading off to Hawaii, the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
"In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away."
One principal area of research can be classed as stratified flows (i.e. fluid flows influenced by the combination of gravity and a density stratification), which lies at the heart of many industrial applications and environmental phenomena. One aspect of this research focuses on fundamental phenomena, including: a new form of propulsion in stratified fluids (which we call "sailing on diffusion"), instabilities, and the settling of particles in stratified fluids. Another focus of our stratified flow research is oceanic internal waves, which are propagating disturbances of the density stratification in the ocean, generated by flow over sea-floor topography and sea-surface winds. Their dissipation enhances ocean mixing, which influences the Earth's climate; and from an engineering perspective, internal waves impact the performance of ocean technology such as exploration vessels and pipelines.
Our other main research area pursues the latest ideas in nonlinear dynamics. A particularly vibrant research area is the development and application of methods that reveal Lagrangian coherent structures in fluid flows. These are structures that aren't necessarily apparent to the naked eye, but play a key role in organizing fluid transport. Through a combination of experiment and theory, we have developed methods to uncover the Lagrangian skeleton of turbulence, tracked flow separation in unsteady flows, and revealed the whereabouts of internal wave attractors.
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