Erik van Sebille
OS Ocean Sciences
The 2016 Division Outstanding Young Scientists Awards is awarded to Erik van Sebille for his applications of Lagrangian methods in oceanography to improve the understanding of a wide range of physical, chemical and biological oceanic phenomena.
Erik van Sebille is an open-minded researcher who has touched on a wide range of subjects in the field of ocean sciences. He combined models and data to study how ocean currents advect tracers, particles, and organisms. He is considered a world expert in applying Lagrangian methods in oceanography, studying the transport of water, heat, nutrients, microbes, plankton and plastic. With regard to the general ocean circulation, his research focussed on the spreading pathways of different water masses and particularly on the exchange between different ocean basins. He put a special focus on the Agulhas current and on the exchange between the Indian and Atlantic oceans. Exciting and innovative results he produced include the discovery of a negative correlation existing between the strength of the Agulhas current and the Agulhas leakage found in high-resolution models and also the explanation of the dynamics of the southward flow of North Atlantic Deep Water in the South Atlantic driven by the vorticity flux of decaying Agulhas rings. Other studies shed light on the southward flow of Labrador Sea Water in the North Atlantic and on the exchange between Pacific and Indian oceans.
Erik van Sebille is interested in a wide range of disciplines, significantly contributing to the understanding of diverse phenomena such as the dispersion and migration processes of pelagic organisms, the pathways of the Fukushima radioactive plume, or the dynamics of near-surface drifting debris that collects in garbage patches, research topics that he has been keen to communicate to the public. These outstanding results have been presented in a large number of peer-reviewed publications, some of which in high-profile scientific journals.