Maike Sonnewald

Developing pathways between theoretical, observational and computational oceanography

Oceans are key to the Climate system. Understanding their influence and likelyhood of change, I use inference from theory, cutting edge computational tools and dynamical systems theory to understand global dynamics.
Modern oceanography is interdisciplinary: the field is data rich from observations and models. I am a physical oceanographer using computer science/dynamical systems tools to explor decadal ocean dynamics. I am passionalte about bringing together different branches of oceanography, and my goal is to discover the underlying principles that govern ocean dynamics from small to global scales. My work focuses on the global ocean, using scalable methods, but the regions I keep returning to are the Southern Ocean and the North Atlantic. Understanding uncertainty and predictability horizons are key drivers in my research, using robust statistics and cutting edge inferences to create the exciting futue of oceanography.

Postdoctoral associate at MIT and UT at Austin, visiting postdoc at Harvard

Joining Carl Wunsch and Patrick Heimbach in 2015, my research has revolved around the ECCO State Estimate. I focus on ocean dynamics, and my research areas include:
  • Predictability of Sea Level
  • Closure of the vorticity budget
  • Examining the gyre/overturning
  • Machine learning applications
  • Application of dynamical systems theory
Head to the adventures section for an exciting blow-by-blow! My publications are here.
I am invested in furthering the modernisation of computational resources used in oceanography.:
  • Conceptualize (plan) a US Research Software Sustainability Institute that goes beyond resources like GitHub
  • Join the discussion on Open Code at NASA and AMS.
  • Further the use of Open Code and development processes
  • Focus on the entire research software ecosystem, including the people who create, maintain, and use research software
  • Work towards reproducible research as described in this paper

Institute for Complex Systems Simulation and the National Oceanography Centre

I was awarded my PhD bringing Dynamical Systems theory back to physical oceanography under titie: "Ocean model utility dependence on horizontal resolution". This was the first systematic assessment of changing the resolution of a global realistic ocean model from non-eddy resolving through eddy-permiting to eddy resolving. Major topics we explored were to do with the boundary layers and how to quantify "utility" and divergence:
  • Surface: Mixed Layer Depth
  • Interior: Steric decompositions and surface-depth covariance
  • Depth: Baroclinic/barotropic topographic interactions and the imprint on the overturning
  • Lyapunov divergence of SSH field
  • Notional functions for defining utility

I worked with Joel J.M. Hirschi, George Nurser and James Dyke. It was a lot of fun, and there is a copy here. Check out resulting publications under publications.