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Ocean 3D plus 1 is centered on the development and application of dynamical systems techniques for use in understanding and predicting ocean motions that are three-dimensional (3D) in space and that vary in time (plus 1). The project is funded by a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI), administered by the Office of Naval Research.  The Ocean 3D plus 1 team consists of 14 investigators from 8 universities and research institutions, with Dr. Larry Pratt of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as principal investigator.

Dynamical systems provides tools that have proved successful in decoding the underlying geometry of time-varying flows in 2 spatial dimensions.  Knowledge of this geometry reveals a great deal about stirring, mixing and transport processes and allows for a better understanding of physical and biological processes, improved performance of operational models (including models to predict oil spills), and better navigational control of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).  Unfortunately this body of work applies largely to mesoscale ocean flows, which are often two-dimensional or approximately so, and not to smaller scale features such as fronts and sub-mesoscale jets and eddies, which can be fundamentally three-dimensional in space and that vary rapidly with time.

The MURI team is made up of a group of applied mathematicians that will develop efficient and robust algorithms for computation of the geometrical structures (the Lagrangian coherent structures) that underlie these flows.  Another group will pursue the closely related problems of assimilation of drifter and glider data into prediction models.  A third group will attempt to apply advancements from both areas to hierarchy of models of real ocean features.