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Professor Duan Is PI for New Cross-Disciplinary, Multi-University, $800,000+ NSF-Funded Ocean Flow Modeling Project

Jinqiao “Jeffrey” Duan, professor of applied mathematics, is the principal investigator for a new cross-disciplinary, multi-university, $800,000-plus National Science Foundation-funded project, “Ocean Modeling by Bridging Primitive and Boussinesq Equations.”

Duan heads a team of applied mathematicians and oceanographers from the University of Chicago, Virginia Tech, and the University of Miami who will share the grant.

The new project extends Duan’s and his colleagues’ earlier work in ocean modeling. Understanding small-scale ocean processes like tiny eddies, ripples, and minute mixing of water beneath the ocean surface may help researchers better understand large-scale processes like hurricanes and tsunamis and processes like long-term global climate.

However, the physical realities of the ocean make this difficult.  The ocean includes layers of water masses with a very small amount of vertical mixing across the layers. This vertical mixing is crucial for cooling the oceans, understanding climate and more, but it is very difficult to model or describe.

With the new NSF grant, Duan and his colleagues will focus on quantifying some rapidly evolving three-dimensional motions that are found in comparatively smaller areas of the ocean but are important to the multiscale dynamics of both coastal and global ocean flows. Researchers will build a modeling framework that can handle both energetically active motions and large-scale general circulations simultaneously.

Duan is director of the Laboratory for Stochastic Dynamics at IIT. He has been the managing editor for Stochastics and Dynamics and the editor-in-chief for the book series Interdisciplinary Mathematical Sciences since 2001. A special focus of Duan's research is about stochastic dynamical systems approaches for multiscale modeling and simulation. In addition to applications to ocean flows, these approaches are  relevant to other complex systems in science and engineering that vary in wide range scales in time and space. Small and fast scale fluctuations (or uncertainties) may have a delicate or a profound impact on the overall evolution of complex systems. Stochastic and nonlinear dynamical systems is a subject that is at the forefront of interdisciplinary scientific research.