Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics – Planetary Boundary Layers in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Ice on Earth and Moons

on behalf of Baylor Fox-Kemper

We are happy to announce that the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics has selected our program: “Planetary Boundary Layers in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Ice on Earth and Moons.”  The program will run Apr 2, 2018 to Jun 22, 2018, and a description of scientific activities is below. The coordinators and scientific advisors of this meeting would like to welcome you to apply now for long visits to this program at https://www.kitp.ucsb.edu/activities/blayers18.  The application deadline for visitors to the long program is Dec. 18, 2016.  Please note that you must apply formally to the KITP weblink to be considered and must be invited formally by the KITP (not me).  Funding and housing may be available, subject to selection and invitation by the Kavli Institute.

Some of you may also be interested in the one-week conference (May 21-25, 2018).  Applications for that conference are not yet open, but long-term visitors are encouraged to plan to attend.

Please feel free to ask us if you have questions, and we are looking forward to seeing you in Santa Barbara!  Also, please excuse the massive emailing and duplicate notices; feel free to forward to interested parties.

Program Description

Coordinators: Baylor Fox-Kemper, Daria Halkides, Brad Marston, and Fiamma Straneo

Scientific Advisors: Stephen Belcher, Carter Ohlmann, and Jim McWilliams

The exchange of energy, mass, and other important quantities across interfaces is a fundamental physical problem spanning all of the natural sciences. Boundary and interfacial layers often exert controlling influence on these exchanges. Interfacial and boundary layers are often characterized by a change of phase, and through spray, bubbles, melting/freezing, and other vigorous mixing or forcing, the coexistence of multiple phases can become important. This program will focus on key questions that illustrate the generality of the interaction phenomenon and facilitate the synthesis of ideas and techniques from different disciplines. Below, we present some of the key questions, broken down into broad areas.

–Oceans: How important are surface waves in driving turbulence in the boundary layer? Are the wave-averaged equations optimal for modeling upper ocean turbulence, given the wealth of recent observations? On large scales atmospheric variability tends to drive the ocean: does this persist down into the mesoscales (<100 km) and beyond

What roles do submesoscale motions play in air-sea exchange?

–Atmospheres: What physics controls the formation and evolution of boundary layer clouds? To what extent are supersaturation, cloud seeding, and nucleation perturbed by anthropogenic emissions? What sets the direction, intensity, and climate change sensitivity of “atmospheric rivers”–the major source of extratropical precipitation? How can fundamental physics (e.g., thermodynamic formulations, conservation principles, statistical physics) be brought to bear on improving the representation of cloud and precipitation biases? Over complex land surfaces, such as vegetated and urban landscapes, how capable are our theory and models of simulating conditions and dispersal, especially for stable boundary layers?

–Ice: As sea ice ages and roughens, how does it influence the atmospheric and oceanic turbulence nearby? What are the appropriate equations to govern the behavior of sea ice on various scales? How does the melting of ice shelves occur as a boundary layer process? How do exchanges of energy and freshwater occur at the ends of glaciers that feed into fjords in Greenland (and possibly also in a future Antarctic)?

–Climate: How important are the varied processes within these boundary layers in determining the mean climate state? In determining the sensitivity of climate to perturbations? Which regions in the world are still poorly represented by existing boundary layer theory? What processes are endemic to those regions, and how are they to be understood?

–Planetary Sciences: Are the equilibrium wind waves of Titan similar to those on Earth? Are the formulations of terrestrial wave models and wave physics sufficient to capture these extraterrestrial waves? What consequences do the ice-covered oceans of Europa, Enceladus, and possibly Ceres have for these bodies’ exchanges and budgets of energy? For the stability of their ice cover? For life on these moons?

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