Sonya Legg

Sonya Legg, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

I am an accidental physical oceanographer – I grew up in a landlocked country and was fascinated by weather and climate ever since I can remember. After being wisely advised to study physics instead of meteorology for my first degree, I then started what I thought would be a PhD in dynamical meteorology at Imperial college. However, my advisor had both atmospheric and oceanographic projects he was involved in, and the oceanographic ideas I tried out seemed more likely to lead to an interesting thesis. And post-PhD I decided to stick with the ocean because there seemed to be more outstanding fundamental questions remaining. My research is largely numerical and theoretical, but has over the years moved from very idealized point-vortex models to more complicated, and sometimes more realistic simulations of ocean mixing. I did go to sea once, but since I felt sick and brain-dead most of the time, I decided I would leave that to the experts. Explaining observed phenomena is however a big motivation to my work, so I enjoy working with observational colleagues. And now I am working closely with climate modelers, helping to improve the parameterizations of small-scale mixing in the next generation of ocean climate models, so I’m finally getting back to my original motivation – understanding climate.