ANNUAL REPORT 2013
Above: Over several years and multiple trips to one of the most isolated locations on earth, NPS Research Professor Tim Stanton has proven the ice melt from the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica is melting faster than anyone thought imaginable. Right above: NPS research team installing custom-designed measurement equipment on the Pine Island Glacier to measure ice melt from underneath the glacier. Right below: NPS oceanography research is exploring the results and consequences of melting ice sheets in the polar regions that are opening up new waterways and territory for exploration and protection.
IN PREPARATION FOR A LESS EXTREME WORLD
While scientists, including some on our own campus, disagree on exactly when, at some point the once-extreme polar regions of the world will be, in one sense, a bit less extreme.
But extremity is not in direct relationship to strategic importance. Over the past several years, the amount of ice around the Arctic has been a bountiful topic of conversation. The Arctic’s opening sea transport lanes, such as Northern Sea Route, in addition to the Northwest Passage, have the opportunity to make a tremendous mark on international maritime transport in regions that were once paid minimal attention.
As the nation’s maritime service, the Navy must have a highly advanced, technically astute understanding of the environment Sailors operate in. Navy Oceanographers are not a large community, but they provide a wealth of information absolutely critical to an operation. Case in point…Following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, prior the USS George Washington’s arrival, the first ship on site was the USNS Bowditch survey ship, working with the Carrier Strike Group oceanographer, an NPS alumnus, on the ship’s plan for safe passage.
Research required for an advanced degree in physical oceanography requires the detailed examination of intricate ocean processes…mesoscale simulations of coastal circulations; vertical heat transport in the Arctic; transbasin nonlinear internal waves, to name a few from the past year.
A stop at NPS for master’s degree in physical oceanography is a must in nearly every Oceanography officer’s career, and for good reason. Expert faculty, built upon a longstanding tradition of excellence, have developed the program with their needs in mind. And every once in a while, one of those faculty makes a landmark discovery that has the potential for worldwide implications.
And this is exactly what happened when Dr. Timothy Stanton finally detailed the amount of ice melting beneath the massive Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. In the near term, we have a much more sound understanding of an ocean-ice process. And in reality, it is a part of the world that has a far greater ability to play a role in global sea levels than the Arctic ever will.
“For the Navy and operational oceanography, the curriculum here at NPS provides the most focused education. We have other opportunities at civilian institutions, but they won’t cover what the Navy needs better than the Naval Postgraduate School.”
REAR ADM. BRIAN BROWN
COMMANDER, NAVAL METEOROLOGY AND OCEANOGRAPHY COMMAND