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Mathew Wells

Assistant Professor of Environmental Science
Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences, UTSC

Environmental fluid dynamics and the thermohaline circulation.

Many of the large-scale water motions in the ocean and in the Great Lakes are controlled by temperature gradients in the water column, and are ultimately set by the seasonal cycle in atmospheric temperature. To understand the response of the overturning circulation in the ocean to climate change, and the variability of thermal stratification in the Great Lakes, we must improve our knowledge of the dynamics of thermally stratified flows. Our research aims to mathematically quantify such environmental flows. In particular we are interested in the relationship between small-scale turbulence and large-scale currents in lakes and the coastal ocean, where thermal stratification and the Earth's rotation play a dominant role.

We study the fundamental dynamics of such rotating and stratified flows in controlled laboratory experiments. In field sites in the Great Lakes we are observing the dynamics of coastal currents, and determining how thermal stratification controls the vertical and horizontal fluxes of momentum and the dispersion rates of biology.

To learn more about my research, please visit