About me

I am an oceanographer at the British Antarctic Survey and a Senior Member of Darwin College, University of Cambridge.

I entered oceanography via physics and applied mathematics. My typical regions of study are the Southern Ocean and (recently) the North Atlantic, which are both climate-relevant regions that feature strong exchanges of heat and carbon between the atmosphere and the deep ocean. My toolbox includes a hierarchy of approaches, from simple pen-and-paper representations to high-resolution adjoint models.

Outside of work, I spend time with my wife and young son, squeezing in some reading and guitar playing where possible. We live in a village just outside of Cambridge, UK.

Research

Involvement with large, collaborative efforts

  • BAS Artificial Intelligence Lab
  • The North Atlantic Climate System Integrated Study (ACSIS)
  • Ocean Regulation of Climate by Heat and Carbon Sequestration and Transports (ORCHESTRA)
  • Securing Multidisciplinary UndeRstanding and Prediction of Hiatus and Surge events (SMURPHS)
  • Integrating Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics (ICED)

Background

Earth's oceans have an enormous impact on global and regional climate. For example, the ocean contains more than 90% of the extra heat present in the climate system due to global warming. However, the mechanisms involved in the exchange of heat and carbon between the ocean and atmosphere, and how they may change in the future, are still poorly understood.

At a few distinct locations on Earth, the natural injection of heat and carbon into the interior ocean, called subduction, is particularly intense. Once trapped in the interior ocean, the subducted heat and carbon can remain there for decades to centuries, potentially slowing global surface warming. These atmosphere-ocean exchange windows are typically found in the Southern Ocean and the high-latitude North Atlantic, which feature exceptionally deep mixing between the surface and the interior ocean. For example, the Eastern Pacific pathway (shown below) is a relatively rapid and efficient export pathway (link to research article) for the exchange of water between the surface and the subtropical interior. In order to understand and predict future climate change, we have to understand what controls the location and intensity of these relatively narrow exchange windows.



Ocean circulation, dynamics, and climate

I use a combination of basic physics, mathematics, and numerical modeling to better understand the behavior of the ocean, including its sensitivity to other components of the climate system. For example, I use ocean adjoint models to uncover potentially hidden ways in which the ocean can respond to changes in the atmosphere. In a recent study, we found that the heat content of the Labrador Sea, a region of deep convection in the North Atlantic, is sensitive to wind stress along the relatively remote West African shelf. This kind of large-scale, remote connection is an important feature of the climate system that we need to better understand. For more information, including an introduction to adjoint sensitivity experiments, see our article in JGR-Oceans, which is also available as an open access preprint. The study is also summarized in this plain language blog post


For more on ocean adjoint modelling, see my webinar recording from 2016


Machine learning: clustering

I have recently started applying various unsupervised clustering algorithms to oceanographic data in order to better understand its structure. In particular, my students and I have applied Gaussian mixture modelling, a machine learning technique, to Southern Ocean temperature profiles. Our initial results are promising, as we describe in this preprint (in revision for JGR-Oceans). Clustering may offer a new, objective way to identify structures in both observed and simulated climate data, ultimately enhancing our ability to understand the climate system.



Air-sea gas exchange

The exchange of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and other gases at the air-sea interface has an enormous impact on surface climate across a wide range of timescales. Despite its critical importance to the climate system, the sensitivity of gas exchange to winds, biogeochemical parameters, and other factors remains poorly understood. Using simple analysing and modeling techniques, we developed a simple model of air-sea gas exchange efficiency to help understand the large-scale, persistent disequilibrium of carbon dixodie between the atmosphere and ocean.



Linking physics, biogeochemistry, and ecology

Ocean circulation connects geographically distinct ecosystems across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales via exchanges of physical properties and biogeochemical tracers. Non-local processes can be especially important for ecosystems in the Southern Ocean, where the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) transports propertie across ocean basins through both advection and mixing. In collaboration with ecologists, I use physical, biogeochemical, and ecological data to better understand what sets the location of top predator habitats (work in revision).



Advising and teaching

Current students

  • Simon Thomas (REP 2019 and Part III 2020, U. Cambridge)
  • Rhiannon Jones (co-supervisor, PhD, U. Southampton)
  • Rachel Furner (co-supervisor, PhD, U. Cambridge)
  • Ciara Pimm (co-supervisor, PhD, U. Liverpool)
  • Andrew Twelves (co-supervisor, PhD, U. Edinburgh)

Alumni

  • Ed Derby (Part III 2019, U. Cambridge)
  • Petr Doležal (Part III 2019, U. Cambridge)
  • Lille Borresen (REP 2018)
  • Matthew Koster (REP 2018)
  • Shahel Khan (Part III 2018, U. Cambridge)
  • Ben Schreiber (REP 2017)
  • Harry Holt (REP 2017)
  • Mark Hammond (REP 2016 and Part III 2017, U. Cambridge)
Part III = master's degree equivalent, involves a project and write-up
REP = Research Experience Placement, involves a substantial summer project

Selected university courses taught

Environmental physics, introductory undergraduate physics, astronomy, calculus, trigonometry, algebra

Teaching philosophy

I practice learner-centered teaching following the MIT Active Learning model. I have implemented this approach in numerous university courses. While teaching at Georgia Southern University, I restructured the Environmental Physics course around active learning.

Podcast

I love working with scientists. They are some of my favorite people. And ultimately, science only gets done because people step up and get to it. I decided to celebrate some of these fine individuals by inviting them to share relaxed, casual conversations about their lives and work. The results are captured in my podcast, Climate Scientists, which is available for free on ten platforms (and counting).

Publications

Featured publications

Our paper on what controls the heat distribution in the Southern Ocean:
D.C. Jones, E. Boland, A. Meijers, G. Forget, S. Josey, J-B. Sallee, and E. Shuckburgh (2019), Heat distribution in the Southeast Pacific is only weakly sensitive to high‐latitude heat flux and wind stress, Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, 124, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JC015460. Article / Preprint

Description: Using a numerical modelling technique called adjoint modelling, we examined the factors that control the heat distribution the recently ventilated Southeast Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean. We were somewhat surprised to find that the distribution was only weakly sensitive to high-latitude atmospheric processes.


Our paper on machine learning applied to Argo float data:
D.C. Jones, H.J. Holt*, A. Meijers, and E. Shuckburgh (2019), Unsupervised clustering of Southern Ocean Argo float profiles, Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, https://doi.org/10.1029/2018JC014629. Article / Preprint

Description: We used unsupervised classification, a machine learning technique, to objectively identify groups of Southern Ocean temperature measurements with similar vertical structures. This approach may be useful for automatically locating structures in climate data, which is important given the ever increasing volume of observational and model data.


Our paper on a connection between the Labrador Sea and West Africa:
D.C. Jones, G. Forget, B. Sinha, S. Josey, E. Boland, A. Meijers, and E. Shuckburgh (2018), Local and remote influences on the heat content of the Labrador Sea: an adjoint sensitivity study, Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, 123. doi:10.1002/2018JC013774. Article / Preprint / Blog Post

Description: Using a numerical modelling technique called adjoint modelling, we examined the factors that control the heat content of the climatically-important Labrador Sea, which is a site of heat and carbon exchange between the surface and the deep interior ocean. We found and tested an unexpected connection between Labrador Sea heat content and winds along the remote West African shelf.


Our paper on mode water export:
D.C. Jones, A. Meijers, E. Shuckburgh, J.-B. Sallee, P. Haynes, E.K. McAufield, and M.R. Mazloff (2016), How does Subantarctic Mode Water ventilate the Southern Hemisphere subtropics?, Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, 121, doi:10.1002/2016JC011680. Article

Description: Using a high-resolution numerical model of the Southern Ocean, we identified and examined a relatively efficient pathway for transporting heat and carbon from the surface ocean into the interior ocean, where it can potentially be sequestered for many decades to centuries.


Our paper on the long-term response of the SO to wind stress changes:
D.C. Jones, T. Ito, and N.S. Lovenduski (2011), The transient response of the Southern Ocean pycnocline to changing atmospheric winds, Geophysical Research Letters, 38, L15604, doi:10.1029/2011GL048145. Article

Description: Observations from the last several decades show a significant increase in the strength of westerly winds over the Southern Ocean, but an appreciable change in the tilt of constant density surfaces (isopycnals) has not yet been detected there. We used an idealized numerical model to demonstrate that it may take many decades to centuries for Southern Ocean density structures to respond to changes in wind stress, due to coupling with the rest of the ocean.


Other selected publications

D. Duncan, P. Eriksson, S. Pfreundschuh, C. Klepp, and D.C. Jones (2019), On the distinctiveness of observed oceanic raindrop distributions, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 19 (10), 6969-6984, doi:10.5194/acp-19-6969-2019, Article

N. Mackay, J.R. Ledwell, M.-J. Messias, A. Naveira-Garabato, J.A. Brearley, A. Meijers, D.C. Jones, and A.J. Watson (2018), Diapycnal mixing in the Southern Ocean diagnosed using the DIMES tracer and realistic velocity fields, Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, 123. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JC013536. Article

T. Dittmar, A. Stubbins, T. Ito, and D.C. Jones (2017), Comment on "Dissolved organic sulfur in the ocean: Biogeochemistry of a petagram inventory", Science, 356 (6340), 813, doi:10.1126/science.aam6039. Article

Hammond, M. D.* and Jones, D. C. (2016), Freshwater flux from ice sheet melting and iceberg calving in the Southern Ocean, Geoscience Data Journal, 3: 60-62, doi:10.1002/gdj3.43. Article / Dataset

Meijers, A., Meredith, M.P., Abrahamsen, E.P., Morales Maqueda, M.A., Jones, D.C., and Naveira Garabato, A.C. (2016), Wind-driven export of Weddell Sea slope water. Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, 121, doi:10.1002/2016JC011757. Article.

D.C. Jones, T. Ito, T. Birner, A. Klocker, and D. Munday (2015), Planetary-geometric constraints on isopycnal slope in the Southern Ocean, Journal of Physical Oceanography, 45 (12), 2991-3004, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-15-0034.1. Article

Ceia, F. R., J. Ramos, R. Phillips, Y. Cherel, D.C. Jones, R. Vieira, and J. Xavier (2015), Analysis of stable isotope ratios in blood of tracked wandering albatrosses fails to distinguish a 13C gradient within their winter foraging areas in the southwest Atlantic Ocean, Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 29, 2328-2336, doi:10.1002/rcm.7401. Article

Xavier, J., B. Raymond, D.C. Jones, and H. Griths (2015), Biogeography of cephalopods in the Southern Ocean using habitat suitability prediction models, Ecosystems, doi:10.1007/s10021-015-9926-1. Article

D.C. Jones, T. Ito, Y. Takano, and W-C. Hsu (2014), Spatial and seasonal variability of the air-sea equilibration timescale of carbon dioxide, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 28, 1163-1178, doi:10.1002/2014GB004813. Article

* = student

CV

Current funding applications in proccess

PI, UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, submitted
PI, NERC Independent Research Fellowship, submitted
Co-investigator, DeCAdeS large grant (PI Adrian Jenkins), submitted

Funding awarded

Assistant, ORCHESTRA and ACSIS NERC LTSM proposals
PI, five separate NERC Research Experience Placements (£2500 each x5 = £12,500)
PI, ARCHER HPC software development grant (roughly £90,000)

Research experience

Physical Oceanographer, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK (2013 - Present)
Research Scientist, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA (2011 - 2013)

Teaching experience

Instructor of Mathematics and Science, Atlanta Metropolitan College, USA (2011 - 2013)
Instructor of Physics, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA, USA (2007 - 2009)

Public engagement and media

Selected service and leadership

  • Climate Science Communications Group, Royal Meteorological Society (2014-2019)
  • Network Coordinator, Cambridge Centre for Climate Science (2015-2016)
  • Principal Organiser, workshop on Techniques, Aims, and Challenges of Ocean-ice Modelling (Adjoint) [TACOMA], University of Oxford (2018)
  • Coordinator, Polar Oceans and Director's Choice Seminar Series, British Antarctic Survey (2013-2015)
  • Chair, Faculty Community on Learner-Centered Teaching, Georgia Southern University (2007-2009)

Education

PhD - Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University (2013)
MS - Mathematics, Georgia Southern University (2009)
MS - Physics, University of Kentucky (2007)
BS - Physics, Georgia Southern University (2005)

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