Coastal and Estuarine Physical Oceanography

The coastal oceanography research group at the University of Oregon focuses on understanding the dynamics of how estuarine circulation interacts with both the open ocean, on one end, and the terrestrial (or ice) system on the other end. We use a combination of observational oceanography and numerical modeling techniques to investigate how well our current conceptual models of these regions work.

Since coming to the University of Oregon, we have focused on two specific regions: (1) the high-latitute fjord waters (and icebergs) of Greenland, Alaska, and Antarctica that connect the coastal ocean to the icy interiors, and (2) Coos Bay, a small, seasonally variable PNW estuary on the southern Oregon Coast. Check out our publications, research highlights, and news posts below to learn more.

Interested in joining the lab?

NEWS (older posts: archived here)

  • Dustin successfully defended his PhD, congrats Dustin! He's on to NASA JPL in October 2017.

  • Dan's paper on iceberg distributions in 3 Greenland fjords (Sermilik, KS, and Rink) accepted at Annals of Glaciology. Congrats Dan! Final version here.

  • Lecture at Southwestern Oregon Community College is archived online. The title was "Estuary circulation in Coos Bay and its link to water quality". Thanks to everyone there for coming (>250 people showed up!).

  • Dave is interviewed on Jefferson Public Radio program about Coos Bay research, upcoming SWOCC lecture, and science communication. (mp3 file here).

  • Downloadable "not a hoax' climate change poster .ai file and pdf file

  • Oceanography magazine article accepted on Sermilik Fjord-Helheim Glacier. Whole issue on ice-ocean interactions!

Check out other marine science happening at the UO!

(atop skinner's butte)



Dave Sutherland
Dave's CV (.pdf) and publication list.

Dave is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences, as well as core faculty in the Environmental Studies Program and the new Environmental Science Institute (ESI). He is a coastal physical oceanographer who loves all things ocean, especially when he can dive in himself.

Current Graduate Students

Dustin Carroll, PhD candidate, website
Dustin comes to UO with a MSc in Physical Oceanography from Moss Landing Marine Labs. His interests here lie in high-latitude oceanography, particularly in ice-ocean interactions in Greenland fjords. He has developed 2-D and 3-D models of both Rink Isbrae and KS fjords in the Uummannaq Fjord region of west Greenland using the MITgcm, and participated in field work there since 2013.

- Dustin's recent work on plumes across Greenland fjords accepted in GRL
- Dustin's 2015 JPO paper came out on MITgcm modeling (JPO link here)

Maria Jose Marin Jarrin, PhD candidate
Maria comes to UO after recently completing a MSc in Physical Oceanography from the University of New Hampshire in Sept. 2016. Her MSc work examined seasonal and interannual variability in water properties off the coast of Ecuador. At UO, she hopes to extend her work on the eastern Pacific Ocean to include the Pacific Northwest, looking at issues such as coast-estuary coupling in small Oregon estuaries, or interannual variability in water properties of the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Ted Conroy, MSc candidate
Ted did his undergraduate work at the University of Hawaii, before spending a year at the USGS in Santa Cruz, CA. Ted will be working on developing a circulation model of Coos Bay, OR. His focus will be on creating a well-validated tool to use to examine all sorts of interesting science questions, such as how does sediment move from the rivers to the sea through the estuary, or where are the best spots for native oyster restoration given the circulation patterns found.

Past students and postdocs

Dan Sulak, finished MSc summer 2016, website

Dan worked on iceberg distributions in Greenland fjords using satellite data from Rink Isbrae, KS, and Sermilik Fjord. He is taking the next couple months to continue working on a manuscript to be submitted on his thesis research, then staring his job search in earnest. Manuscript accepted, nice job Dan!

Twila Moon, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow until May 2016
twila Twila finished her PhD at UW/APL working with Ian Joughin on Greenland Ice Sheet dynamics in 2014. She spent the last year doing a postdoc with Ted Scambos at NSIDC in Boulder, CO, and joined us in July 2015 as a NSF Ocean Sciences funded postdoc. Check out her own webpage here.
- Current position: Lecturer at UBristol Glaciology Centre

George Roth, finished MSc, Spring 2014
george George received a BS in Oceanography from UW. His research is looking at the impact of icebergs on fjord stratification and using icebergs as drifters to characterize the circulation in these fjords.

- George's 2014 paper on icebergs in Sermilik Fjord is out in GRL
- First job after graduation: Polar Geospatial Center (now at NPI in Tromso)

Molly O'Neill, finished MSc, summer 2014
molly Molly obtained a BS in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Lehigh, as well as a M.Ed in Secondary Education. She is the leader of our observational work in Coos Bay, OR, working with scientists from the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology and the South Slough to understand the impacts of estuarine circulation on dissolved oxygen variability.

- Molly's manuscript on Coos Bay hydrography and dissolved oxygen, is now published in ECSS, 2016
- First job after graduation: FTI Consulting on the environmental side of things


  1. PhD-level scientists interested in working in the group are encouraged to contact Dave. There are several fellowships available that could fit (NSF, NOAA, NASA), as well as proposal ideas that could be dicussed. Currently, I have no funds to externally support a postdoc.

  2. Student opportunities: I am always happy to discuss opportunities for new PhD and MSc students interested in ice-ocean interactions, estuarine dynamics, or subpolar oceanography and its links to the cryosphere and climate. If you are interested please contact me with your research interests and general background (CV, transcript, etc.). I am looking for motivated students with strong math, physics, or computer science backgrounds (and some interest in marine science)! Students can participate through Earth Sciences (applications due in early January for the following Fall term) or through the Environmental Science Institute.






Links & Media

UO Campus address:
204 Volcanology
map here

phone: (541) 346-8753

(credit: D. Carroll)

last updated 17-may-17


See publication list or my CV for the most up-to-date information on my research activities.

         - My thesis and first publications were on the East Greenland Coastal Current
         - Check out the Arctic-Subarctic Ocean Fluxes (ASOF) program and links therein


Classes taught with sample syllabi:

General, Oceanography and Media Links

University of Oregon
University of Oregon
Dept of Earth Sciences
Environmental Studies Program (ENVS)

Recent media
Coos Bay / PNW estuaries:
Lecture at SOCC entitled "Estuary circulation in Coos Bay and its link to water quality". (archived online)
Jefferson Exchange radio interview (on Coos Bay and science communication) mp3 file here

Greenland fjord/glacier research:
Wired story on Larsen C ice shelf and its imminent fission
WA Post story featuring Dustin Carroll

LeConte Glacier/Bay research on ice-ocean interactions
Petersburg Pilot story (featuring myself and Jason Amundson)
Oregon Public Radio Think Out Loud (featuring Jonathan Nash)
KFSK radio interview (featuring Roman Motyka)


Marine Science at UO
Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB)
Oregon State Physical Oceanography (CEOAS, OSU)
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve


Scripps Glaciology Group
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
UW Oceanography
Ginny Catania, UTIG

Jonathan Nash, OSU
Parker MacCready, UW
Fiamma Straneo, WHOI
Bob Pickart, WHOI