The Rough Ocean

The research project Rough Ocean is a joint physical oceanography and marine geology effort to study how rough bathymetry affects the fundamental dynamics of oceanic flows.

The Gulf Stream in a high-resolution simulation of the North Atlantic Ocean. Figure by Xiaobiao Xu (Florida State University). Reference: LaCasce et al. (2019).

The Gulf Stream in a high-resolution simulation of the North Atlantic Ocean. Figure by Xiaobiao Xu. Reference: LaCasce et al. (2019).

About the project

Many theories of ocean circulation neglect bottom topography. Recent observational and theoretical evidence suggests to the contrary that topography exerts a dominating influence on the vertical structure of time-varying oceanic flows. The proposed work seeks to bridge the gap between oceanographic theory, observations and full complexity numerical models by examining interactions between specific flows and topography, both idealized and realistic. The project also aims to strengthen interactions between physical oceanography and marine geology, two disciplines which often have been independent.

Results from this interdisclipinary research project will help improve the use of satellite-derived ocean data, aid the interpretation and running of climate models, improve ocean prediction and open possibilities for future inter-disciplinary work.


In the Rough Ocean project we will examine how bottom topography affects oceanic flows, through specific tasks:

1) to study how topography affects the stability of mean currents like the Gulf Stream and of planetary waves, using idealized numerical solutions,

2) to examine surface- and bottom-trapped motions over realistic bathymetry using a state-of-the-art model of the North Atlantic, and

3) to work jointly with marine geologists to determine which topographic features are most important for ocean currents.


The name of the project is The Rough Ocean. It is funded from the Research Council of Norway in the Klimaforsk-programme. The project number is 302743.

The project period is from November 2020 to October 2023.  


This project will be done with collaboration from researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, with Florida State University and the Institutt de Physique du Globe de Paris, and Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo.

Published May 25, 2020 9:55 AM - Last modified May 25, 2020 10:31 AM