The new wave of oceanographers: Laura Ruiz-Etcheverry

Physical oceanographer focusing on sea level anomaly dynamics.

Laura Ruiz-Etcheverry did her PhD at Centro de Investigaciones del Mar y la Atmósfera (CIMA), University of Buenos Aires. After that she worked at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, as a postdoctoral researcher for three years. Currently she works as assistant researcher at CIMA.

SWOT AdAC: What is your field of research and how did you choose it?

Laura Ruiz-Etcheverry: My field of research is physical oceanography with focus on sea level anomaly dynamics. I chose oceanography when I was in high school. I have always loved the ocean and I enjoyed snorkeling and scuba diving. Marine biology was an option for me until I heard about physical oceanography, and it caught my attention. I was curious about the physics of the waves. Once I was at the university, I discovered more about the ocean, and I decided to apply my knowledge through satellite altimetry. Nowadays, I’m involved in three main projects: 1) sea level trends in the Southwestern Atlantic using altimetry data and model data; 2) sea level variability due to density effect, the so-called steric effect at different temporal scales using model data and high resolution in situ date; 3) the dynamics of CO2 in the Drake Passage.

SWOT AdAC: How is your research related to SWOT?

LRH: I have been working with altimetry data since my Ms Thesis in a region where there is a lack of in situ data. Our work group, led by Dr. Saraceno, has made the effort to validate altimetry data and to study the dynamics of the Southwestern Atlantic at different time/spatial scales. SWOT is a natural product to be excited about and be able to understand the sub-mesoscale in a region where the available gridded altimetry product has shown high kinetic energy. In the same way, SWOT data will provide new information about the Patagonia Continental Shelf, one of the most productive areas of the world. One of the SWOT tracks will cover the Patagonia continental shelf, and I am involved in a project in which one of the objectives is to deploy instruments under the track and validate the data.

SWOT AdAC: What do you find exciting about SWOT and the Patagonian Continental Shelf in which you will be participating? How will you contribute to the campaign?

LRH: SWOT is an exciting mission technologically and scientifically. It was great to watch online the launch and the shared the excitement with people all around the world. I am thrilled to see and analyze the 90-day data record over the selected tracks. I am expecting to see fine filaments and structures such as in chlorophyll images without worrying about clouds.

In the past I have been part of oceanographic campaigns for regional studies. It is now exciting to be part of a campaign to collect in situ data to exploit with SWOT data in collaboration with international research groups and be part of the group that represents South America. My role in the campaign for the deployment of the instruments is to help in the preparation and organization.  

SWOT AdAC: What are your plans after the SWOT-AdAC campaign (max 300 words)

LRH: After the deployment of the instruments under the SWOT pass number 7, we will put our energy on preparing the campaign for the recovering of those instruments. It is not that easy to have access to a ship, and we will share it with other groups. Then, I hope to find enthusiastic undergraduate and PhD students to process and analyze the in situ data collected and to prepare to analyze SWOT data.