Helen Johnson

Research Interests

Understanding ocean circulation and the role it plays in climate is essential if we are to make reliable projections for the future. The student will be part of a vibrant, cross-department research group striving to understand how the ocean circulation works. We focus particularly on the Atlantic, where the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) carries the heat that we in the UK rely on to keep us warmer than the average for our latitude, and on the fast-changing polar regions, where the atmosphere and ocean interactions are strongest. The details of any DPhil project will be defined in discussion with the student, but potential avenues of research include regional, global or idealized numerical modelling of ocean circulation, development of ocean dynamics theory, and the analysis of observational data. Key questions include what sets the strength and variability of the Arctic Ocean circulation, will the MOC weaken in response to global warming, and what role do ocean eddies play in the adjustment of ocean circulation to changed forcing. Students in the group often get involved in collecting observational data at sea on a research cruise.

Helen was a research assistant at MIT before her PhD, a postdoc at the University of Victoria in Canada, and a Royal Society University Research Fellow (at Reading followed by Oxford), prior to becoming an Associate Professor here.  She has a BSc in Physics and Meteorology and a PhD in Physical Oceanography  as well as 20 years of research experience.  She has supervised 5 DPhil students graduated (of whom 4 are still in research and one is a teacher).  She has 4 current students.

Follow this link to current DPhil topics in Earth Sciences

Qualifications & Experience

BSc Physics and Meteorology (Reading, UK), PhD Physical Oceanography (Reading, UK)

More than 20 years experience in ocean and climate research, and 14 years experience as a lecturer in the Earth Sciences department at the University of Oxford

Personal Research Keywords

Ocean dynamics, Arctic, Atlantic, Climate, Idealized numerical modelling, Research cruises