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Turbulence Effects on Active Species in Atmosphere and Ocean
submitted to the
Toulouse IDEX program “Attractivity Chairs 2014”


Professor Peter HAYNES
Professor at University of Cambridge (UK)
Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP)


Directeur de Recherche CNRS
(coordinator for a consortium of participants)

Université de Toulouse III, Paul Sabatier (UPS)
Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées
Laboratoire d’Aérologie (LA)
Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique
et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS)
Centre National de Recherches Météorologique

Keys words: Ocean – Atmosphere –Tracers – Turbulence – Active/reactive species – Radiative effects – Chemistry – Biogeochemistry – Environmental issues – Fundamental to Applied studies.

1. Presentation

1.1 Participants

The TEASAO (“Turbulence Effects on Active Species in Atmosphere and Ocean”) project aims through the IDEX Chaire d’Attractivite programme to build a new long-term partnership within Toulouse between the three laboratories CNRM, LA and LEGOS (Toulouse Universities and scientific Institutes consortium, COMUE-Toulouse), and externally to DAMTP (University of Cambridge).
The participants are:

  • Peter Haynes, DAMTP, Professor at University of Cambridge, candidate for the Toulouse IDEX attractivity chair;
  • Alexandre Paci, CNRM, IPEF-chercheur (Météo-France & CNRS);
  • Philippe Ricaud, CNRM, Directeur de recherche (CNRS) ;
  • Jean-Pierre Chaboureau, LA, Physicien (CNAP,  UPS);
  • Francis Auclair, LA, Maître de conférence (UPS);
  • Véronique Garçon, LEGOS, Directrice de recherche (CNRS);
  • Yves Morel, LEGOS, Directeur de recherche (CNRS), general coordinator of the project.

1.2 Context and general description of the TEASAO project

Toulouse is the main national center for the development of operational meteorology (Météo France) and operational oceanography (Mercator Océan, SHOM operational center, contribution to the Previmer project …) and the general background of the present project is the preparation of the next generation prediction systems. Enabled by the improvement of space or in situ observation systems, computing facilities and numerical models, a common and constant theme for atmospheric and oceanographic sciences is our ability to understand and represent smaller and smaller scale processes. The upscaling effect by which smaller scale processes have a strong influence on larger scales means that the systematically improving representation of small scales potentially offers major improvements for prediction systems.

One very important and broad class of processes, common to both atmosphere and ocean, concerns the interaction at small scales between fluid dynamics and tracers (substances transported and mixed by the flow) such as chemical species (including atmospheric water vapour) and biological species. Many of these tracers are active in the sense that they undergo non-trivial transformation (e.g. reaction with other chemical species, interaction with other biological species or, in the case of atmospheric water vapour, change of phase) with these transformations depending strongly on fluid processes. In some cases there is a significant effect of the tracer evolution on the flow itself (e.g. through heat generated in phase changes, or through radiative effects, or when the tracer contributes significantly to the density field). Understanding and modelling the effect of turbulence and mixing on biologically, chemically or physically active species in density-stratified geophysical flows remains a current major scientific challenge, at the heart of international scientific programmes (Future Earth, SOLAS, IMBER, ICACGP ...), with many implications for society challenges and our ability to model the local environment and the climate system as a whole.

The scientific goal of the present project is therefore to improve our general understanding and the modelling of the processes coupling fluid dynamics to the evolution of active species at local to global scales.

The many different physical, chemical and biological processes that are involved in different applications means that many problems in this class are addressed independently, in Toulouse and elsewhere, within separate atmospheric and oceanic communities. There are however strong scientific connections between them and our communities would benefit from a framework allowing exchange of knowledge and ideas and development of common approaches and investigation tools. The first strategic goal of the present project is to therefore to build a long term efficient partnership of laboratories across the COMUE-Toulouse community to improve our understanding of the effect of small scale turbulence and mixing on the evolution of active species in both the atmosphere and the ocean.

The link of the TEASAO project with applications and prediction systems is twofold:

  • The numerical models used in the project are developed by the participants and are used for operational systems. They will be evaluated and improved in their capacity to represent small scale turbulent processes and their effects on active species. This will prepare the future operational models for applications at local scale (on horizontal domains covering typically 100kmx100km).
  • It will however be at least another decade (and probably longer) before the direct numerical simulations of the small scale turbulent processes can be directly represented in global or even regional scale prediction systems. The processes and their effects on tracers have to be parameterized and the studies proposed here will also address this issue. We will indeed study the effect of these small scale processes at macro-scales and the way to take them into account in models whose spatial resolution is too coarse to allow their direct simulation.


The second strategic goal of the TEASOA project is thus to prepare the next generation of prediction systems for both the atmosphere and the ocean at local to global scales.

Professor Peter Haynes is an international expert on the dynamics of atmosphere and ocean and on the transport and mixing of tracers, including reacting chemical and biological species. He has in his previous research addressed these scientific issues with both theoretical and applied studies. Much of his work has been focused on atmospheric problems but he has successfully applied his knowledge and results to the ocean and indeed has previously collaborated with oceanographers from LEGOS. Over the proposed project period he will be able to spend extended periods in Toulouse and additionally he will provide links to researchers in Cambridge both in fluid dynamics and in several aspects of climate science. He is thus the ideal candidate to help us gather our communities and the present project has been built around his availability for the attractivity chair.

2. Detailed research program and fallouts for Toulouse University

2.1 General strategy

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