Researcher Profile

Jackson School of Geosciences

Patrick Heimbach

Patrick  Heimbach
Associate Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences
Fellow, W. A. "Tex" Moncrief, Jr., endowed chair III in Simulation-Based Engineering Sciences, Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences
Research Professor, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences

Work: +1 512 232 7694
Office: POB 4.232
Mailcode: C0200

My main interest is understanding the general circulation of the ocean and its role in the global climate system. As part of the Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean (ECCO) consortium that originated under the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP), we are bringing together a state-of-the-art general circulation model (MITgcm) with most of the available satellite and in-situ observations to produce a best possible estimate of the time-evolving three-dimensional state of the global ocean and sea ice cover. To do so, we use formal estimation/inverse methods. It is now in its third phase, ECCO-IcES.

I have also become interested in the cryosphere, in particular in the dynamics of Arctic sea ice and polar ice sheets. We are coupling the MITgcm to a thermodynamic/dynamic sea ice model to improve our simulations of processes in the Arctic and the Southern Ocean. Furthermore, we are investigating the polar ice sheets, their dynamics, their interaction with the ocean, and their contributions to sea level rise. I act as a co-chair of the U.S. CLIVAR working group on Greenland Ice Sheet-Ocean Interactions (GRISO WG) and am member of the newly formed NASA Sea Level Change Team (N-SLCT).

Prior to moving to UT, I have worked for 16 years in the physical oceanography group in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), and have been affiliated with MIT's Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate (PAOC), the MIT-WHOI Joint Program (JP), the Climate Modeling Initiative (CMI) , the Center for Global Change Science (CGCS), the Center for Computational Engineering (CCE), and the Program in Computational Science and Engineering (CSE). I did my Ph.D. at the Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany.

Areas of Expertise

Heimbach's research group (Computational Research in Ice and Ocean Systems -- CRIOS) in ICES is engaged in a number of projects, with main funding from NASA, NSF, DOE, and DARPA. (1) Our overarching research focusses on understanding the global ocean circulation, its role in climate variability and change, and its predictability on seasonal to decadal time scales. As part of the NASA-funded "Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean" (ECCO) consortium involving colleagues at JPL, MIT, AER and Scripps, we are synthesizing much of the available satellite and in-situ observations with a state of the art global coupled ocean general circulation model by means of optimal state and parameter estimation. Results are used to infer, for example heat and freshwater content changes over the last few decades, and their impact on global sea level (via the NASA Sea Level Change science team). Related NASA-funded efforts focus on interpreting measurements from the existing and forthcoming GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) and SWOT (Surface Water and Ocean Topography) satellite missions in deciphering key dynamical processes in the ocean. (2) As part of an NSF-funded project (Arctic & subpolar gyre State Estimate -- ASTE), we are developing computational frameworks for quantifying the role of the ocean in observed Arctic climate variability and changes over the last few decades. The framework also enables assessment of how to build an improved observing system in support of the Arctic Observing Network (AON) and the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH). (3) Our group is also investigating the ocean's role in the observed increasing mass wastage from the two polar ice sheets. Two NSF-funded projects focus on quantifying Greenland ice sheet-ocean interactions (GRISO). In particular, an NSF Research Coordination Network (RCN) project is conducted in collaboration with Co-PI Catania (DGS/UTIG) and other collaborating institutions to improve interdisciplinary data access, standardization and curation through modern cyberinfrastructure in support of GRISO. For another NSF-funded project (East Antarctic Grounding Line Experiment -- EAGLE) led by DGS/UTIG PI Blankenship, our group is developing a framework for conducting simulations of ice-sheet ocean interactions in East Antarctica in conjunction with the planned field campaign designed by UTIG. (4) Optimal control methods play an important role in initializing geophysical models, which are constrained by sparse observations in space and time, for the purpose of prediction. As part of the DOE project PISCEES (Predicting Ice Sheet and Climate Evolution at Extreme Scales), we are collaborating with Co-PI Jackson (DGS/UTIG) to develop concepts for adjoint-based transient ice sheet model calibration, initialization for prediction, and uncertainty quantification. Applications have targeted some of the fastest evolving ice stream-shelf systems in the Amundsen Sea Embayment, West Antarctica. (5) As part of DARPA's Positioning System for Deep Ocean Navigation (POSYDON) program, we are collaborating with BAE Systems in the project "Networked Estimation of Position using Tomography, Undersea-Gliders, Nudging and Exfiltration" (NEPTUNE). Our role is the provision of optimal ocean states via data assimilation for improved acoustic propagation.

2016Fall GEO 391 Intro To Ocean Modeling