Thesis defense – Logan Grady

Join us on Monday, March 25 at 12pm PST for Logan Grady’s thesis defense. Logan will be presenting his research on “Observations of Currents, Waves, and Turbulence within a Giant Kelp Forest in Stillwater Cove, Carmel, California.” Logan collected time series data using moored instrumentation and also conducted surveys of the size and spacing of kelp plants in order to learn about processes driving mixing in this unique environment. Read the full abstract and find the live stream links here.

Thesis Defense by Logan Grady March 25, 2024 12pm

Diver Logan Grady prepares to measure the dimensions of an acoustic Doppler velocimeter deployed at his study site in Stillwater Cove. Photo by Bennet Bugbee.
Logan Grady at the helm of MLML’s Navy Whaler in Stillwater Cove. Photo by Roxanne Garibay.

AGU Fall Meeting 2023

Mari Figueroa, graduate student in the MLML Physical Oceanography lab, presented her research on internal tides in Monterey Submarine Canyon at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco. Mari’s research uses data from the MLML seawater intake monitoring system, a shore-based observation station supported by CeNCOOS. Mari’s attendance at AGU was supported by a student travel award from the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST). Mari was also the recipient of a 2023 COAST Dr. Kenneth H. Coale Graduate Scholar Award.

Mari Figueroa with her AGU poster

Also out in full force at AGU was the MLML Computational Oceanography lab, led by Mike Wood. Dr. Wood and student researchers in the Comp Oce lab presented on a range of topics, including remote sensing of kelp biomass and effects of ice melt on phytoplankton around the Greenland ice sheet.

SJSU Physics Club visits MLML

A big welcome to the SJSU Physics Club. Undergraduate and graduate students in Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Biochemistry and Geology made the trip over hill to tour the facilities at MLML, learn about the lab and its history and check out some geophysical fluid dynamics demonstrations. We are looking forward to next time!

SJSU Physics Club
SJSU students at the small boats facility at Moss Landing Marine Labs

AGU Fall Meeting 2022

It’s AGU Fall Meeting Time, and the members of the Physical Oceanography Lab at MLML will be present in person and remotely. Below are the presentations scheduled for undergraduate and graduate student researchers. Click the links for times and presentation format on the AGU Fall Meeting website.

Ocean Sciences Meeting 2022

Attending the 2022 Ocean Sciences Meeting? Check out these posters by MLML graduate students Lyndsey Claassen and Ryan Chiu. Lyndsey’s work uses clustering algorithms to characterize water masses in northern Monterey Bay. Ryan’s work investigates physical and biogeochemical variability in a tidally-restricted estuary, Moro Cojo Slough.

Claassen OSM poster

Session: ODP03 Ocean Data Science Posters (OD05+OD12)
Time: Begins at 7pm on 3/1

Link to PDF – Claassen et al.


Session: CBP03 Coastal Biology/Biogeochemistry Posters (CB03+CB06+CB07+CB16)
Time: Tuesday, 3/1/2022, from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM U.S. Eastern Standard Time.

Link to PDF – Chiu et al.

Naturalist Night in Santa Cruz

Come see MLML Physical Oceanographer Tom Connolly talk about waves at the  Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, on the evening of Thursday, December 14!

For more information, check out the Facebook event.

7:00-8:30pm. Doors open at 6:45pm.
$12 General Admission | $6 Children | Museum Members 50% off


Ocean waves are a familiar sight on the central coast of California, carrying energy from beyond the horizon to the shoreline. However, there are even bigger waves below the surface, which help drive ocean circulation and create large fluctuations of temperature and dissolved oxygen in the Monterey submarine canyon. Other types of waves, which signal the onset of El Niño in the tropics, may be hundreds of kilometers long but less than a meter high. This presentation will discuss the many different types of waves in the ocean and how they affect marine ecosystems by transporting energy throughout the ocean.

Kelp forest physics and ecology

MLML Phycology student Steven Cunningham has been working with the Physical Oceanography lab to study transport and mixing in the kelp forests of Stillwater Cove. As part of his thesis on benthic particulate organic carbon in kelp forests, he has been conducting dye release experiments. An acoustic Doppler velocimeter (ADV) measures the waves and currents while a string of fluorometers  measures the vertical position of the dye plume. And don’t worry, the dye is not radioactive or otherwise harmful to marine life. Kelp forests are complex in terms of both ecology and physics, and MLML has a long history of studying this system.

Underwater view of a dye plume, with the ADV (left) and fluorometer (right).


SCUBA deployment of the ADV, with Carmel beach in the background.

Student scholarships

Congratulations to Physical Oceanography lab members Drew Burrier and Patrick Daniel for recent awards to support their research and graduate education!

Drew was awarded the MLML Xiphias Martin scholarship for creativity in marine science and dedication to community service.

Patrick was awarded the MLML Scholar Award for academic dedication and outstanding research.

Patrick also recently received an award from the Myers Oceanographic and Marine Biology Trust to support work on nutrient fluxes in the Gulf of California, while taking part in field work with the Gilly Lab at Hopkins Marine Station.

For more information:

Drew at the MLML scholarship reception
Patrick at the MLML scholarship reception

COAST award to study the California Current System

A new project in the Physical Oceanography lab, Remote forcing of seasonal currents in the California Current System, has been funded by the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) grant development program. This work will provide research opportunities for students, and help identify key locations and processes that can be targeted in future field studies.

The California Current System (CCS) serves as a confluence of water masses with diverse physical and biogeochemical characteristics, representing a broad range of sources throughout the Pacific Ocean. Although a great deal of past research has been devoted to characterizing this part of the ocean, the physical mechanisms that drive seasonal currents remain elusive. For example, multiple theories have been proposed for the generation of poleward currents that flow opposite to the direction of the prevailing wind. This study investigates the theory that remote winds as far away as the equator drive seasonal variability in the CCS, both near the coast and far offshore. Large scale waves, with wavelengths of hundreds to thousands of kilometers, can transmit energy along the coast and across the ocean.


The goal of this study is to conduct a synthesis of existing long-term data sets to 1) detect evidence of remote forcing at seasonal time scales in the CCS, 2) identify key sites where the remote forcing process is interrupted, and 3) create an experimental design for a focused process study in the field. Data from the multiple observational networks along the coast will be crucial for this project.

Scholarship in memory of Bill Watson

MLML will be awarding a one-time scholarship this year in memory of Bill Watson. Bill was a big part of MLML for many years. He started as a student in the Physical Oceanography lab under Dr. Broenkow, completing his thesis on tidal currents in Elkhorn Slough in 2005. He then worked at the labs in the shop and helped many students with projects, particularly with  electronics and instrumentation.

Bill also shared his love of music with the MLML community. He started a bluegrass group at the lab, and started a two-year trip to handcraft 5 string banjos (see photos below). One of those banjos was raffled off to fund a $3,000 dollar student scholarship a few years back (more about this here: The Bill Watson Memorial Scholarship will be awarded this spring, at our annual scholarship reception, in the amount determined by the donations we receive.

  • Congratulations to June Shrestha of the Ichthyology lab!
  • The Bill Watson scholarship was a one-time award, but there are plenty of opportunities to support MLML students at



MBARI intern symposium

Just down the road, MBARI will be hosting its 20th annual summer intern symposium on Wednesday, August 10.

Drew Burrier, graduate student in the MLML Physical Oceanography lab, will be presenting from 11:00-11:15. The title of his talk is "Current affairs: An examination of the physical setting at Station M via the benthic rover."

Many other exciting presentations are happening throughout the day. More info:

REU Symposium

Undergraduate students doing research all around Monterey Bay will soon be presenting their work at a summer research symposium. This summer, Miranda Baker from Haverford College worked on an interdisciplinary project with the Physical and Chemical Oceanography labs. At the symposium, she will talk about her research on salinity, nutrients and dissolved oxygen in Moro Cojo Slough.

For more info:


MLML Open House 2016

Every spring, Moss Landing Marine Labs hosts an open house to educate the public about marine science and raise funds for scholarships. This year, over 2,000 visitors came through the labs over the course of the weekend. The Physical Oceanography lab set up a wide variety of activities for all ages, including:

  • Internal waves in a bottle
  • Wave tank beach erosion
  • Interactive cruise data plotting
  • Real-time temperature data stream
  • Coriolis force on a turntable
Drew explaining internal wave dynamics.


Tom at the CTD station.