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AM Seminar: Tracing the New Arctic

Speaker Name: 
Monica Martinez Wilhelmus
Speaker Title: 
Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Speaker Organization: 
UC Riverside
Start Time: 
Monday, May 3, 2021 - 4:00pm
End Time: 
Monday, May 3, 2021 - 5:00pm
Via Zoom Presentation
Assistant Professor Marcella Gomez


Sea ice is an important component of the Earth's climate system. Following the observed long-term global warming trend, sea ice extent in the Arctic has continued to recede at unprecedented rates over the last decade. Understanding the dynamics of the Arctic sea ice field has, therefore, never been more pressing. However, progress on the development of next-generation climate models has been limited by the sparsity of in-situ field measurements and the limitations of remote sensing products to resolve small-scale features (<20 km). In this talk, I will present a new method for the automatic identification and tracking of ice plates in optical satellite imagery that provides a unique record of sea ice shape and size measurements (from which local concentration metrics can be derived) alongside unprecedented sea ice dynamic observations (drift, rotation rates, and dispersion characteristics). I will introduce recent advances by my group to leverage these observations to examine the dynamical structure of the sea ice field and describe how free-drifting ice plates can be used as a proxy to infer ocean eddy dynamics within the meso/sub-mesoscale range. Our ability to successfully retrieve daily observations at a 250-m resolution from a long-term satellite record (dating back to 2003) provides a road map to understand the dynamical structure of critical momentum and heat transfer regions in our polar oceans.


Dr. Monica Martinez Wilhelmus is an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and an affiliated scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Prior to joining UCR, she held a one-year postdoctoral scholar position to work on a collaborative project between the Ocean Science group at NASA JPL and the Environmental Science and Engineering department at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). She received her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) in 2010, and her M.S. (2012) and Ph.D. (2016) degrees, both in Mechanical Engineering, from Caltech. Her research combines experimental techniques and numerical analyses to understand transport phenomena within the intersection of biology, oceanography, and fluid mechanics.

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