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Rebecca Woodgate

Senior Principal Oceanographer

Associate Professor, Oceanography

Email

woodgate@apl.washington.edu

Phone

206-221-3268

Biosketch

Dr. Woodgate is a physical oceanographer, specialising in polar research, with special focus on the circulation of the Arctic Ocean, interactions between sea-ice and the ocean, and the role of the polar oceans in climate. Her research concentrates on the collection and analysis of in-situ oceanographic data. She has worked for many years in the deployment and recovery of moored oceanographic instrumentation in ice-covered waters, and the analysis of both mooring and hydrographic data. She is involved in undergraduate teaching and graduate education. She has worked on British, German, Norwegian, and American research vessels and led expeditions to Bering Strait and the Arctic Ocean.

Her first degree is in physics from the University of Cambridge and her PhD (University of Oxford) is in data assimilation in ocean models. Her postdoc work was done at the Alfred-Wegener Institute in Germany.

Dr. Woodgate's research goal is to understand the physical processes in both Arctic and Antarctic regions, and to use her background to bridge the gap between theory, modeling, and real observations of the oceans.

Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center

Education

B.A. Physics & Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Christ's College, 1990

Ph.D. Oceanography, University of Oxford, 1994

Projects

High Latitude Dynamics

Year-round subsurface moorings are used to study the Arctic throughout the year. PIs Aagaard and Woodgate focus on mooring and other in situ data to address a variety of Arctic questions - including flow of Atlantic and Pacific waters, interactions between the shelves and the deep basins, and the properties of the Arctic Ocean Boundary Current.

 

Changing Sea Ice and the Bering Sea Ecosystem

Part of the BEST (Bering Sea Ecosystem Study) Project, this study will use high-resolution modeling of Bering Sea circulation to understand past change in the eastern Bering climate and ecosystem and to predict the timing and scope of future change.

 

Bering Strait: Pacific Gateway to the Arctic

The Bering Strait is the only Pacific gateway to the Arctic. Since 1990, under various funding, APL-UW has been measuring properties of the Pacific inflow using long-term in situ moorings, supported by annual cruises. Data, papers, cruise reports, plans, and results are available.

 

More Projects

Publications

2000-present and while at APL-UW

Variability, trends, and predictability of seasonal sea ice retreat and advance in the Chukchi Sea

Serreze, M.C., A.D. Crawford, J.C. Stroeve, A.P. Barrett, and R.A. Woodgate, "Variability, trends, and predictability of seasonal sea ice retreat and advance in the Chukchi Sea," J. Geophys. Res., 121, 7308-7325, doi:10.1002/2016JC011977, 2016.

More Info

4 Oct 2016

As assessed over the period 1979–2014, the date that sea ice retreats to the shelf break (150 m contour) of the Chukchi Sea has a linear trend of –0.7 days per year. The date of seasonal ice advance back to the shelf break has a steeper trend of about +1.5 days per year, together yielding an increase in the open water period of 80 days. Based on detrended time series, we ask how interannual variability in advance and retreat dates relate to various forcing parameters including radiation fluxes, temperature and wind (from numerical reanalyses), and the oceanic heat inflow through the Bering Strait (from in situ moorings). Of all variables considered, the retreat date is most strongly correlated (r ~ 0.8) with the April through June Bering Strait heat inflow. After testing a suite of statistical linear models using several potential predictors, the best model for predicting the date of retreat includes only the April through June Bering Strait heat inflow, which explains 68% of retreat date variance. The best model predicting the ice advance date includes the July through September inflow and the date of retreat, explaining 67% of advance date variance. We address these relationships by discussing heat balances within the Chukchi Sea, and the hypothesis of oceanic heat transport triggering ocean heat uptake and ice-albedo feedback. Developing an operational prediction scheme for seasonal retreat and advance would require timely acquisition of Bering Strait heat inflow data. Predictability will likely always be limited by the chaotic nature of atmospheric circulation patterns.

A synthesis of year-round interdisciplinary mooring measurements in the Bering Strait (1990–2014) and the RUSALCA years (2004–2011)

Woodgate, R.A., K.M. Stafford, and F.G. Praha, "A synthesis of year-round interdisciplinary mooring measurements in the Bering Strait (1990–2014) and the RUSALCA years (2004–2011)," Oceanography, 28, 46-67, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2015.57, 2015.

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1 Sep 2015

The flow through the Bering Strait, the only Pacific-Arctic oceanic gateway, has dramatic local, regional, and global impacts. Advanced year-round moored technology quantifies challengingly large temporal (subdaily, seasonal, and interannual) and spatial variability in the ~85 km wide, two-channel strait. The typically northward flow, intensified seasonally in the ~10–20 km wide, warm, fresh, nutrient-poor Alaskan Coastal Current (ACC) in the east, is otherwise generally homogeneous in velocity throughout the strait, although with higher salinities and nutrients and lower temperatures in the west. Velocity and water properties respond rapidly (including flow reversals) to local wind, likely causing most of the strait's approximately two-layer summer structure (by "spilling" the ACC) and winter water-column homogenization. We identify island-trapped eddy zones in the central strait; changes in sea-ice properties (season mean thicknesses from <1 m to >2 m); and increases in annual mean volume, heat, and freshwater fluxes from 2001 to present (2013). Tantalizing first results from year-round bio-optics, nitrate, and ocean acidification sensors indicate significant seasonal and spatial change, possibly driven by the spring bloom. Moored acoustic recorders show large interannual variability in sub-Arctic whale occurrence, related perhaps to water property changes. Substantial daily variability demonstrates the dangers of interpreting section data and the necessity for year-round interdisciplinary time-series measurements.

Coupled wind-forced controls of the Bering–Chukchi shelf circulation and the Bering Strait throughflow: Ekman transport, continental shelf waves, and variations of the Pacific–Arctic sea surface height gradient

Danielson, S.L., et al., including K. Aagaard and R. Woodgate, "Coupled wind-forced controls of the Bering–Chukchi shelf circulation and the Bering Strait throughflow: Ekman transport, continental shelf waves, and variations of the Pacific–Arctic sea surface height gradient," Prog. Oceanogr., 125, 40-61, doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2014.04.006, 2014.

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1 Jun 2014

We develop a conceptual model of the closely co-dependent Bering shelf, Bering Strait, and Chukchi shelf circulation fields by evaluating the effects of wind stress over the North Pacific and western Arctic using atmospheric reanalyses, current meter observations, satellite-based sea surface height (SSH) measurements, hydrographic profiles, and numerical model integrations. This conceptual model suggests Bering Strait transport anomalies are primarily set by the longitudinal location of the Aleutian Low, which drives oppositely signed anomalies at synoptic and annual time scales. Synoptic time scale variations in shelf currents result from local wind forcing and remotely generated continental shelf waves, whereas annual variations are driven by basin scale adjustments to wind stress that alter the magnitude of the along-strait (meridional) pressure gradient. In particular, we show that storms centered over the Bering Sea excite continental shelf waves on the eastern Bering shelf that carry northward velocity anomalies northward through Bering Strait and along the Chukchi coast. The integrated effect of these storms tends to decrease the northward Bering Strait transport at annual to decadal time scales by imposing cyclonic wind stress curl over the Aleutian Basin and the Western Subarctic Gyre. Ekman suction then increases the water column density through isopycnal uplift, thereby decreasing the dynamic height, sea surface height, and along-strait pressure gradient. Storms displaced eastward over the Gulf of Alaska generate an opposite set of Bering shelf and Aleutian Basin responses. While Ekman pumping controls Canada Basin dynamic heights (Proshutinsky et al., 2002), we do not find evidence for a strong relation between Beaufort Gyre sea surface height variations and the annually averaged Bering Strait throughflow. Over the western Chukchi and East Siberian seas easterly winds promote coastal divergence, which also increases the along-strait pressure head, as well as generates shelf waves that impinge upon Bering Strait from the northwest.

More Publications

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center
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