Coordinated Mathematical Modeling of Internal Waves (10w5083)

Arriving in Banff, Alberta Sunday, April 4 and departing Friday April 9, 2010


(University of British Columbia, Mathematics)

(University of Cambridge)

(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

(University of Alberta)


The purpose of this proposal is to set up the first cross-disciplinary workshop on the mathematical modeling of internal waves. Currently, there is very little interaction between the oceanographic, atmospheric and astrophysical communities, despite the unity of the underlying mathematics. Indeed, despite being the same phenomenon, even the term "internal wave" is not widely used in astrophysics, which has no standard convention. This workshop, which provides a rare opportunity to unite these communities in a common task, will help establish common ground, so that researchers can share and develop mathematical techniques.

As an initial focus, the workshop will assess the state-of-the-art of current internal wave models, where possible identifying how well predictions tie in with observational and numerical data. The group will then determine where there is worthwhile crossover with other physical settings. Having done so, participants will be charged with identifying the most important research tasks that can help solve a wide variety of problems across fields. This may involve adapting existing techniques to different research fields or developing new techniques. This synergy will generate a "to-do" list that will guide mathematical research of internal waves in the coming years.

The workshop is very timely, coinciding with several initiatives. Major projects have just been completed in the ocean (HOME, NLIWI) and a new one is upcoming (IWISE). There are rapid developments occurring in the discovery of extra-solar planets close enough to interact tidally with their host stars. Observational projects (SuperWASP, CoRoT) are currently detecting new planets and doing asteroseismology, which may include the discovery of global oscillation modes in which buoyancy and/or Coriolis force play a major role. We anticipate many research proposals related to this topic in the coming years and this workshop will help focus their direction. From an environmental perspective, improvements in climate studies demand more accurate modeling, and understanding internal wave dynamics is a key part of this process.

The workshop is dedicated to training high quality postdocs and graduate students, as well as the advancement of Science. Strong female representation by leading researchers such as Pascale Garaud, Sonya Legg, Jennifer MacKinnon, Chantal Staquet, Yanqin Wu, Magda Carr and Pascale Bouret-Aubertot will provide female role models for the graduate students and postdocs who attend. This workshop will also provide a forum for continuity of ideas from the recent PIMS CRG meetings on Complex Geophysical Fluids co-organized by Balmforth and Sutherland, for which one of the thrusts was the dynamics of geophysical waves.