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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI Oceanographers Receive $424,000 Grant
from the National Science Foundation
to Study the North Atlantic Current

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. -- February 1, 2000 -- Three URI Graduate School of Oceanography scientists have been awarded $424,000 by the National Science Foundation to study the North Atlantic Current, an extension of the Gulf Stream. Professor of physical oceanography Tom Rossby, and marine research scientists Mark Prater and Huai-Min Zhang will analyze collected data in this second phase of a research project begun in 1997 with the deployment of ocean current measuring instruments, called RAFOS floats, along the current. The floats drift along at depth on surfaces of constant density accurately reflecting the movement of waters below the surface. The project is part of a major U.S. program called the Atlantic Climate Change Experiment based at GSO.

After processing the information gathered from the floats, the scientists will map out the North Atlantic Current in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean. They will also examine in detail the sites where physical processes may enhance the exchange of waters along and across the Subpolar Front. This long front separates the warm waters originating in the Gulf Stream from the cold waters of the Labrador Sea.

In addition, Rossby and his team will measure and map out fields of dissolved oxygen in the ocean as a result of data from oxygen sensors attached to the RAFOS floats, an experiment that has never been attempted. Finally, the data derived from the floats will provide scientists with records of pressure and temperature for internal wave and tide fields.

A resident of Saunderstown, Rossby received his engineering training in applied physics at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, and his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His current research interests include the dynamics and kinematics of ocean currents with special interest in the Gulf Stream and the circulation of the North Atlantic.

Prater is a physical oceanographer, presently specializing in Lagrangian measurement techniques, the North Atlantic Current circulation from both observational and modeling perspectives, and deep convection processes in the Labrador Sea. He received his B.S. and M.S. in civil engineering from Ohio State University and his Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Washington. He is a resident of Wakefield.

Zhang, a resident of Kingston, studies ocean circulation and mixing processes, and interpretation of observational data using statistics, modeling, and data assimilation. He also studies heat budget and interannual variability with emphasis in the warm water pools. He received his B.S. in atmospheric sciences from Peking (Beijing) University, his M.S. in atmospheric physics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his Ph.D. in physical oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The URI Graduate School of Oceanography is one of the country's largest marine science education programs, and one of the world's foremost marine research institutions. Founded in 1961 in Narragansett, RI, GSO serves a community of scientists who are researching the causes of and solutions to such problems as acid rain, global warming, air and water pollution, oil spills, overfishing, and coastal erosion. GSO is home to the Coastal Institute, the Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the Ocean Technology Center, and the National Sea Grant Depository.


Visit the URI Graduate School of Oceanography website:

For Information: Lisa Cugini, (401) 874-6642,


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