PhD student investigating the interactions between the atmosphere and meso and fine scales in the ocean.
Alexandre Barboni got a Master Degree at the Geosciences Departement in ENS Paris, then he specialized in Physical Oceanography, starting a PhD in 2020. Currently, he works with three oceanographic institutions, LMD in Ecole Polytechnique near Paris, and SHOM and LOPS, both located in Brest, France.
SWOT AdAC: What is your field of research and how did you choose it?
Alexandre Barboni: I study the interactions between atmosphere and meso and fine oceanic scales. I’m particularly interested in dynamics evolution over long timescales, typically months to years, and my field of expertise is the Mediterranean Sea. Despite its small size the Mediterranean Sea can be considered as a small ocean with a wide variety of dynamical structures and remarkable data coverage.
Eddying structures evolve in time and over the vertical, modifying temperature and salinity properties. As mesoscale features account for about 60% of ocean kinetic energy, it is an important source of energy and heat below the ocean surface. Meso and fine oceanic scales also greatly influence the mixed layer, the uppermost layer of the ocean exchanging with the atmosphere. These structures can then in return greatly impact air-sea exchanges for momentum, heat and atmospheric gas. One key aspect of my subject is then to link in situ data at depth with satellite remote-sensing.
SWOT AdAC: How is your field of research related to SWOT?
AB: The SWOT mission is expected to greatly enhance our vision of ocean surface current through its 2D sea surface height measurement. Smaller scales features should then be more accurately detected and tracked in time. An improved eddy tracking would enable to go beyond a simple surface current diagnostic and enhance our knowledge on energy and heat pathways.
Detecting finer scale structures would also greatly help to diagnostic lateral exchanges, such as filament or eddies instabilities. These dynamics can currently only be watched in temperature or chlorophyll from satellite but not really measured.
SWOT AdAC: What do you find exciting about SWOT and the SWOT-AdAC campaign you will be participating? How will you contribute to the campaign?
AB: This satellite should be real step forward in ocean surface current detection, particularly in regions where eddies tend to be small such as the Mediterranean Sea. We really expect to see new and detailed structures from SWOT.
My contribution to C-SWOT mission is the production of near-real-time maps with high resolution (~1km) satellite data such as chlorophyll and sea surface temperature. These measurements can be considered as tracers to reveal dynamical structures, like oceanic fronts or sheared filaments, and will enable comparison with in situ current measurements from the ships.
As time series are also key for observations, I will also keep an eye on a cytometer for BIO-SWOT campaign. A cytometer is an automatic sensor to track phytoplankton, and BIO-SWOT, will follow C-SWOT in approximately the same region. It will then allows almost two months of continuous phytoplankton measurements.
SWOT AdAC: What are your plans after the SWOT-AdAC campaign?
AB: I expect to defend my PhD in about 6 months, there is then first a report to finish. Afterwards I’m currently planning a postdoc project, continuing to work on eddying structures. There are still lots of interactions to explore between high-resolution remote-sensing, such as SWOT altimetry, and ocean currents. One I would be interested to study is its complex and multi-scale relation with biology.