News from the Columbia Climate School

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This Time, A Colder Destination

Debra Tillinger
Debra Tillinger

My name is Debra Tillinger and I’m a graduate student in ocean and climate physics at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Until now, all of my work has focused on the tropics. My thesis is about the Indonesian Thoroughflow, which transports water from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean via the narrow straits and deep basins of the Indonesian Seas. I’ve been on five scientific research cruises so far: from Hawaii to Alaska, from Australia to Thailand, and three cruises around the Philippines. This will be my first trip to Antarctica.

While I’m at sea, I’ll be working with instruments called lowered acoustic Doppler current profilers (LADCPs). Using these instruments, I can measure the speed and direction of ocean currents from the sea surface all the way down to the sea floor. They work by sending out bursts of sound. When the sound hits particles that are moving with the water, their pitch is altered depending on the direction of movement (called the Doppler effect). The LADCPs measure that returning pitch and I can use that information to get a profile of the ocean currents. I’ll also be helping out with deploying moorings (instruments that we leave on the sea floor to gather data) and measuring the temperature and salinity of the water.

Science for the Planet: In these short video explainers, discover how scientists and scholars across the Columbia Climate School are working to understand the effects of climate change and help solve the crisis.
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