Shelf Sea Oceanography and Meteorology research group

The Shelf Sea Oceanography and Meteorology research group was part of the Marine Institute. The group's main objectives were to understand and predict physical processes, which exchange matter and energy across the continental shelves, and to provide underpinning research for biogeochemical studies of coastal and shelf waters. Our research involved a balanced combination of:

  • field campaigns
  • 3D regional modelling
  • fully non-linear process modelling
  • innovative sensor development
  • theoretical and statistical modelling.

Due to restructuring of the research activities the SSOM group ceased to operate from July 2010, however you can read about our projects and other outreach materials.

Wave-flow interactions

  • Project PI/Co-PI: D.G.Dritschel / V.I. Vlasenko, et al
  • Duration: 2008–2011
  • Source: EPSRC


D.G.Dritschel (University of St. Andrews), V.I. Shrira (Keele University), J. Vanneste (Edinburgh University).


V.I. Vlasenko (University of Plymouth), R.Grimshaw (Loughborough University), M.E. McIntyire (Cambridge University).

Modelling of the Wyville Thomson Ridge overflow

  • Project PI/Co-PI: V. Vlasenko, N.Stashchuk
  • Duration: 2008–2011
  • Source: NERC

Amount awarded £136844

fEC £171054.

Non-traditional baroclinic wave effects in the Strait of Gibraltar

  • Project PI/Co-PI: V. Vlasenko, N.Stashchuk
  • Duration: 2008–2009
  • Source: NERC NE/F010214/1

The principal aim of the project is to study the three-dimensional evolution of packets of tidally generated large-amplitude internal waves in the Strait of Gibraltar. On the basis of this knowledge the pathway of energy in the wave packets (and the observed irregular structure of wave packets, in particular) will be explained and quantified. The greater insight into the baroclinic wave dynamics of the strait and, as a consequence, into the mixing processes initiated by the tidally generated internal waves will be achieved in the framework of the following research activities:

  • the oceanographic objective is to work with the experimental data collected by the University of Malaga (Spain) at two moorings during a three-month experiment in 2005 to quantify significant baroclinic wave events occurring in the strait
  • the numerical objective is to apply the-state-of-the-art fully nonlinear non-hydrostatic MITgcm to the strait with the real bathimetry and to reproduce the evolution of tidally generated internal waves and their input into spatial-temporal variability in the strait with the focus on three-dimensional nonhydrostatic effects and mixing processes

<p>Rocky coastline with motion blurred water in the strait of Gibraltar, Spain. Credit: Algefoto, courtesy of Getty Images<br></p>

  • the comparison objective includes an accurate comparison analysis of the available in-situ data with the results of numerical modelling in order to quantify the non-traditional three-dimensional baroclinic wave processes occurring in the strait.

As a result of the aforementioned activities, the conditions controlling the evolution of large-amplitude internal waves in the strait will be identified and clarified.

Wave Hub Impacts on Seabed & Shoreline Processes (WHISSP)

  • Project PI/Co-PI: P. Hosegood, A.Nimmo-Smith, D. Huntley
  • Duration: 2007–2010 
  • Source: SWRDA, PRIMaRE

The project will address the impact on the sea bed and shoreline of devices deployed in the Wave Hub project.

Learn more about the WHISSP project


Southern European Seas Assessing and Modelling Ecosystem changes (SESAME)

  • Project PI/Co-PI: G.Shapiro
  • Duration: 2007–2010
  • Source: EU-FP6

The general scientific objectives of SESAME IP, supported by the European Commission, are to assess and predict changes in the Mediterranean and Black Sea ecosystems as well as changes in the ability of these ecosystems to provide goods and services.

The Mediterranean and Black Sea will be approached as a coupled climatic/ecosystem entity, with links and feedbacks to the world ocean. The assessment of ecosystem changes will be based on the identification of the major regime shifts in ecosystems that occurred during the last 50 years. 

Mathematical models, validated and upgraded using existing and new observations, will be used to predict ecosystem responses to changes in climate and anthropogenic forcings during the next five decades. 

The new data will be gathered during multidisciplinary, multiship oceanographic cruises in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. These will provide an overall picture of the Mediterranean and Black Sea that does not yet exist as well as essential datasets for model validation.

University of Plymouth is involved in Work Packages WP1, WP3 and WP7.

4th General Assembly Meeting, Villefranche, France: 09/11/2009 to 12/11/2009

The 4th General Assembly Meeting took place from 9–12 November in Villefranche. The first day was devoted to presentations of the WP progress and deviations – issues of concern by WP leaders. The morning of 10 November was devoted to administrative issues and approval of the next implementation plan, while the Advisory Board Meeting was held on the same afternoon.

SESAME's 2nd Scientific Workshop, Villefranche, France: 11/11/2009 to 12/11/2009

Presentation: G.I.Shapiro, D.Aleynik, F Wobus and C.Griffiths. Long Term Variability of the Physical Parameters in the Benthic Boundary Layer over the Black Sea Shelf and its Potential Role in Carbon Sequestration.

MSc Hydrography - Courtesy of Shutterstock

The application of remote sensing to the measurement of marine particle size and their relation to turbulence

  • Project PI/Co-PI: A.Nimmo-Smith
  • Duration: 2007–2010
  • Source: NERC NE/EO15247/1


In collaboration with Drs Bowers (PI) and Jago and Professor Simpson, University of Wales, Bangor.

To provide high-quality in situ suspended particle size information using a submersible holographic particle imager.

Mixing and Dispersion of Coastal Plumes

  • Project PI/Co-PI: D. Huntley
  • Duration: 2007–2009
  • Source: UoP / BRNC


Dr Richard Thain and Dr Duncan Priestley.

A new mechanism for generation of internal waves

  • Project PI/Co-PI: Dr V. Vlasenko, N.Stashchuk
  • Duration: 2007–2008
  • Source: NERC Grant Ref. NE/E01030X/1

The overall goal of the project is to study a new mechanism of internal wave generation that may occur in river-plume areas at the transition of the head of surface gravity current from supercritical (in terms of the Froude number) to subcritical regime of evolution. Formulated as a hypothesis in the course of the analysis of recently taken satellite images and the data of in-situ observations, this mechanism requires further theoretical clarification and justification on the basis of hydrodynamic modelling.

The greater insight into the new mechanism of the generation of internal waves will be achieved in the framework of the following research activities:

  • analysis of published in-situ data and satellite images provided by the University of Hamburg (Germany)
  • numerical simulations of the plume dynamics based on a fine-resolution fully nonlinear non-hydrostatic numerical model
  • comparison analysis of the remote sensing and in-situ data with the results of numerical runs.

As a result of the aforementioned activities, the conditions controlling formation of large-amplitude internal waves at the frontal side of the river plume will be identified and clarified in terms of various input parameters such as model geometry, river discharge, bottom topography, sea water stratification etc.

Black Sea Recovery as a Basis of Regional Environmental Security, Collaborative Research project

  • Project PI/Co-PI: G.Shapiro
  • Duration: 2006–2008
  • Source: NUKR.CLG.982285

This project addressed scientific uncertainties in the processes of mixing in the Black Sea, improving understanding of how losses and gains of nutrients and pollutants influence the environmental stability of the Black Sea.

Learn more about the Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery project

<p>Shoal of fishes - Red Sea, Egypt. Getty images</p>