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Dr. John M. Toole

Senior Scientist
Department Physical Oceanography


Contact Information:
Work: 508-289-2531
Office: 211A Clark Laboratory

Mailing Address:
266 Woods Hole Road, MS #29
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, MA 02543

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Research Interests

  • polar ocean processes, air-ice-ocean interaction
  • mechanisms and intensity of ocean mixing and its influences on circulation
  • air-sea interaction and water mass transformation
  • variability of the ocean's stratification and circulation at seasonal, interannual and decadal time scales
  • instrument development

Selected Recent Publications

  • Le Bras, I.A., S.R. Jayne and J.M. Toole, 2018. The interaction of recirculation gyres and a deep current. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 48, 573-590, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-17-0206.1.
  • Greatbatch, R.J., M. Claus, P. Brandt, J.-D. Matthießen, F. P. Tuchen, F. Ascani, M. Dengler, J. M. Toole C. Roth and J.T. Farrar, 2018. New ways of understanding the variability and maintenance of equatorial ocean currents. Geophysical Research Letters, 45,
  • Timmermans, M.-L., J. Toole and R. Krishfield, 2018. Warming of the interior Arctic Ocean linked to sea-ice losses at the basin margins. Science Advances, 4, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat6773.
  • Cole, S. T., J. M. Toole, L. Rainville and C. Lee, 2018. Internal waves in the Arctic: influence of ice concentration, ice roughness, and surface layer stratification. Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, 123, 5571-5586, doi: 10.1029/2018JC014096.
  • Davis, R.E., L.D. Talley, D. Roemmich, W.B. Owens, D.L. Rudnick, R. Weller, J.M. Toole, M.J. McPhaden and J.A. Barth, 2018. 100 years of progress in ocean observing systems. Ch. 17 of a monograph celebrating 100 years of scientific research at AMS. in revision.


Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, 2004

Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2008

Member, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Phi Sigma, Kappa Kappa Psi

Students and other Advisees

  • Principal Advisor to: S.Bennett (independent consultant), S.Wijffels (CSIRO, Australia), K. Polzin (WHOI), K. Silverthorne (ETH Zurich), I. Le Bras (WHOI/SIO)
  • Thesis Committee Member or Member of Thesis Defense for:  R. Ponte (AER), S. Rintoul (CSIRO, Australia), S. Wacongne (FSU), C. Chen (UMASS Dartmouth), J. Zemba (Waldorf School of Saratoga), R. Schudlich (unknown), E. Brady (NCAR), G. Johnson (NOAA/PMEL), M. Sundermeyer (UMASS Dartmouth), L. St. Laurent (WHOI), A. Ganachaud (IRD,France), J. Zhang (Fidelity Investments), A. Macdonald (WHOI), J. Hyatt (Mass Maritime), J. T. Farrar (WHOI), D. Stuebe (Applied Science Associates), M. Mazloff (SIO), B. Peña-Molino (U. Tasmania), R. Walsh-Dell (SIO).
  • Postdoctoral Advisees: Dan Kelley (Dalhousie U.), Yves Gouriou (IRD, France), Joanna Muench (U. Washington), Harvey Seim (UNC Chapel Hill), Sabine Mecking (U. Washington/APL), Sylvia Cole (WHOI), Isabela Le Bras (WHOI/SIO), Ruth Musgrave (WHOI)


Sc.D. Physical Oceanography, 1980. MIT/WHOI Joint Program

B.A. Physics, 1975. University of Maine


Having an aptitude for mathematics and physics and a passion for sailing, it was natural for John Toole to go into the ocean sciences, specifically the discipline of Physical Oceanography.  John earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maine in spring 1975 after spending the previous summer as a WHOI Summer Student Fellow in the Physical Oceanography (PO) Department.  That experience motivated his application to the MIT/WHOI Joint Program that awarded him a Doctorate of Science degree in 1980.  After a 2-year National Research Council postdoctoral position at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, he returned to join the WHOI PO scientific staff where he advanced to Senior Scientist in 1996.   In addition to advising the occasional student, John maintains an eclectic research portfolio investigating ocean mixing processes and their influence on circulation, the mean global heat and fresh water budgets and the roles of water mass formation and ocean currents,  variability of the ocean's stratification and circulation at seasonal, interannual and decadal time scales and polar ocean processes,  leading instrument development efforts when the science need exists.