Transatlantic Oceanography: Celebrating the career of Harry Bryden
‘Transatlantic Oceanography: a meeting to celebrate the career of Prof. Harry L. Bryden FRS’ was held at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton on 30th April and 1st May. More than 70 of Harry’s colleagues from the UK, Spain, Germany and the USA attended the meeting.
The title of the meeting was chosen to reflect Harry having spent half of his career in North America, followed by almost 20 years in Southampton, and also as a reference to Harry’s seminal work on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC), which served as inspiration of the ‘Rapid Climate Change’ programme. Following an introduction by Prof. Tim Minshull, Head of the School of Ocean and Earth Science, Raymond Pollard gave a review of Harry’s professional trajectory and publications. Displaying Harry’s papers on a map of the world Raymond made the case that Global Oceanography would have been a more apt title for the meeting.
Harry’s pioneering work on ocean transports and the MOC has been an inspiration to several of the speakers. Stuart Cunningham spoke about the measurement of the MOC and oceanic heat flux at 26°N generated by the RAPID-MOC and RAPID-WATCH programmes. Now in the 9th year of observations led by Stuart the RAPID MOC timeseries has had a large impact on our understanding of ocean circulation and climate. Much discussion followed about the possible reasons for the reduction of the MOC observed in 2009-2010.
The discussion continued the following day, when Jochem Marotzke spoke on the Predictability and prediction of Atlantic circulation and climate. Jochem highlighted the importance of the initialisation of coupled models and the difficulty of validation. A prediction was made that the MOC’s reduction observed in 2009-10 would not be sustained over the coming years.
Ocean transports was also a theme of Lisa Beal’s presentation To the Agulhas and back, and back again. Lisa Beal spoke about her research in the Indian Ocean, starting with the discovery of the Agulhas western boundary undercurrent during her PhD supervised by Harry. Lisa has returned several times to make further measurements of the Agulhas and is now embarking on a study to investigate the impact of climatic changes in Southern Ocean westerlies on the Agulhas Current and the leakage of Indian Ocean waters into the South Atlantic.
Marta Alvarez talk, Starting in the northern lights and finishing in the Mediterranean Sea, explained how she was guided by Harry in her early career and went on to describe her work on the measurement of transports of tracers and analysis of the uptake of CO2 by the oceans. Gregorio Parrilla then reminisced on his collaborations with Harry on the study of the Strait of Gibraltar and the WOCE A5 section in the Atlantic, as well as on Harry’s important influence in the emergence of physical oceanography in Spain.
Harry Bryden is renowned as a physical oceanographer but the last speaker, Eelco Rohling, impressed on the audience that Harry has had a great impact palaeoceanography too. Eelco has been inspired by Harry’s work on the flow through the Gibraltar Strait and has applied this in two of his own research themes. In the first of these analysis of core data form the Red Sea has led to valuable record of global sea-level going back 500,000 years. The second study used the palaeo record of outflow form the Mediterranean to estimate the changes in stratification of the North Atlantic.
The audience also appreciated presentations from John Toole, Two advisee projects: A talk in recognition of Harry's seemingly endless supply of research problems for his students and postdocs; Carl Wunsch, Sea-level change - the physical oceanography of everything; John Shepherd, Why modelling mixing is messy: a cautionary tale; and Andy Watson, DIMES: fun and games in the Southern Ocean.
A constant theme of the meeting was the inspiration and encouragement that Harry has given students and colleagues. An after dinner speech was given by Lisa Beal in which she reflected on the advice she has received from Harry over the years. Some of this advice is encapsulated in ‘Brydenisms’, quotes known to many of Harry’s students and colleagues, for example ‘read a paper a day’. Most speakers and several other meeting participants emphasised Harry’s generosity in mentoring early career scientists and his seemingly endless supply of great ideas and advice for junior colleagues as two of his most admirable qualities.