Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Discovery Lecture Series
presented by AltaSea and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Friday, December 1, 2017
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Do Swimming Animals Mix the Ocean?

By John O. Dabiri, Stanford

The oceans are teeming with trillions of swimming organisms, from bacteria to blue whales. Current research efforts in biological oceanography often focus on the impact of the marine environment on the organisms within. We ask the opposite question: can organisms in the ocean, especially those that migrate vertically every day and regionally every year, change the physical and/or biogeochemical structure of the water column?

The answer has potentially important implications for ecological models at local scale and climate modeling at global scales. This talk will introduce the quite controversial prospect of biogenic ocean mixing, beginning with evidence from measurements in the field. More recent laboratory-scale experiments, in which we create controlled vertical migrations of plankton aggregations using laser signaling, provide initial clues toward mechanisms to achieve efficient mixing at scales much larger than the individual organisms. These results are compared and contrasted with theoretical models, and they highlight promising avenues for future research in this area.

John Dabiri is a Full Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering and of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. His research focuses on science and technology at the intersection of fluid mechanics, energy and environment, and biology. Honors for this work include a MacArthur Fellowship, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Popular Science magazine named him one of its "Brilliant 10" scientists for his research in bio-inspired propulsion. For his research in bio-inspired wind energy, Bloomberg Businessweek magazine listed him among its Technology Innovators, and MIT Technology Review magazine named him one of its 35 innovators under 35. In 2014, he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He currently serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Fluid Mechanics and the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, and he is a member of the U.S. National Committee for Theoretical and Applied Mechanics.

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