Talks & Lectures
24 Oct 2019
EAS 308

What are Eddy fluxes? Biological and Chemical Feedbacks from (and to) Coastal Waters

Department of Civil, Environmental, and Ocean Engineering

Photo of David Lindo-Atichati


Marine physics influence biogeochemical systems from microscales to planetary scales. Mesoscale eddies are ubiquitous and highly energetic rotating features of marine physics and ocean and coastal circulation. Their influence on biological and biogeochemical processes varies widely, stemming not only from advective transport but also from the generation of variations in the environment that affect biological and chemical rates. Eddies control the physical and biogeochemical environment by vertically distributing and laterally stirring water parcels, chemicals, and planktonic organisms. The ephemeral nature of eddies makes it difficult to elucidate the overlaying mechanism of physical-biological-biogeochemical feedbacks that occur within and beyond eddies, necessitating the use of multidisciplinary approaches involving sampling, remote sensing, and high-resolution modeling. All three aspects are woven through this presentation in an attempt to synthesize the current role of eddies, with particular emphasis on three new findings in understanding the mechanisms by which eddies can regulate physical-biological-biogeochemical feedbacks in the coastal and estuarine systems. These findings 1) bridge long-standing scientific controversies on the signature of mesoscale eddies on larval-fish distribution, 2) shed light on the transport and fate of underwater hydrocarbon plumes and surface UV filters, and 3) offer a novel frameworks to build a paradigm-shift in marine biophysics: quantifying the relationship of eddy activity at the length scale of the community aggregation, where the collective behavior and motion of marine animal might also be relevant to the large scale driven motion of eddies.


Dr. David Lindo-Atichati is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Engineering and Environmental Sciences at the College of Staten Island and at The Graduate Center of CUNY. He also holds a research associate position at the American Museum of Natural History, and he has been a guest scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution since 2015. He is an oceanographer trying to understand why coastal currents look the way they do; how they might be changing; and the role they play in the biogeochemistry of the water column, in the past, and in our future. The research tools he uses integrate theory, laboratory experiments, observational big data, deep learning, and numerical models to tackle fundamental yet unresolved questions on coastal fluid dynamics.

Originally from Barcelona, Spain, he became enraptured with the ocean when he spent the weekends of his childhood running with his dad on the Mediterranean shores. He frequently wondered why coastal waters moved the way they do. He received a dual Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Las Palmas in 2012, after having completed doctoral courses and all the research for his doctoral dissertation at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami, from 2009 to 2012. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Miami and in 2015 he received a postdoctoral award at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he is still a guest scientist.

His intellectual contributions to the field include generating computational tools to detect and track eddies, and to understand how they affect the distribution of larval-fish ecosystems and marine contaminants. The results of his research have been published in journals such as Ocean Modeling, Environmental Science and Technology, and Deep-Sea Research.

Lindo-Atichati is a passionate professor who received the 2016 Award of Excellence in Scholarship and Teaching at CUNY. His doctoral course ‘Climate Change and Discursive Frames’ received a Future Initiatives award in 2019.

Finally, in 2018 and 2019 he was one of the stakeholders of the hackathons ‘Hack the Ocean’ (2018) and ‘Hack the Solar System’ (2019) at the American Museum of Natural History, in which more than 100 computer scientists spent 24 hours at the museum solving computational challenges related to fluid dynamics.

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