Tom Connolly

Tom Connolly

Faculty Member

Department:  Physical Oceanography


phone: (831) 771-4470
office: 419 MLML Main Lab


Tom is a physical oceanographer who studies the dynamics and ecological impacts of circulation in the coastal zone. Currents and water properties near the coast are influenced by a wide range of processes, including: wind-driven upwelling, tides, turbulent mixing, surface waves and internal waves. Unravelling these complex and interrelated physical processes is important for understanding how marine ecosystems respond to changes in weather and climate.

The physical oceanography lab uses a variety of techniques to study coastal circulation patterns. Observational data from ships, moorings, buoys and drifters are analyzed to characterize the marine environment and test theories of ocean circulation. This observational work is complemented by model experiments on the computer, where factors like waves, wind and tides can be controlled. Research topics include the formation of low-oxygen zones, transport of toxic algae blooms, enhancement of upwelling near submarine canyons, interannual temperature variability, and the effects of shoaling surface waves on nearshore circulation.

Research Interests:
  • Remote forcing and seasonal currents in the California Current System
  • Physical drivers of phytoplankton concentrations along the central California coast
  • Impacts of circulation on coastal hypoxia and ocean acidification
  • Wind and wave-driven circulation over the inner continental shelf
  • Enhancement of upwelling and internal wave energy in submarine canyons
  • Nutrient and salt fluxes in seasonally hypersaline estuaries (e.g. Moro Cojo Slough)
  • Use of new sensor technology to investigate fine-scale variability in physical and biogeochemical processes
Curriculum Vitae:
Selected Publications
  • Hickey, B., S. Geier, N. Kachel, S. Ramp, P. M. Kosro and T. P. Connolly (2016), Alongcoast structure and interannual variability of seasonal midshelf water properties and velocity in the Northern California Current System. J. Geophys. Res., 121, 7408-7430, doi:10.1002/2015JC011424
  • Siedlecki, S. A., N. S. Banas, K. A. Davis, S. N. Giddings, B. M. Hickey, P. MacCready, T. P. Connolly, and S. L. Geier, 2015. Seasonal and interannual oxygen variability on the Washington and Oregon continental shelves. J. Geophys. Res., 120, 608-633, doi:10.1002/2014JC010254
  • Connolly, T. P. and S. J. Lentz, 2014. Interannual variability of wintertime temperature on the inner continental shelf of the Middle Atlantic Bight. J. Geophys. Res., 119, 6269-6285, doi: 10.1002/2014JC010153
  • Connolly, T. P., B. M. Hickey, I. Shulman, and R. E. Thomson. 2014. Coastal trapped waves, alongshore pressure gradients, and the California Undercurrent. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 44, 319–342, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-13-095.1
  • Connolly, T. P. and B. M. Hickey. 2014. Regional impact of submarine canyons during seasonal upwelling. J. Geophys. Res., 119, 953–975, doi:10.1002/2013JC009452
  • Giddings, S. N., P. MacCready, B. M. Hickey, N. S. Banas, K. A. Davis, S. A. Siedlecki, V. L. Trainer, R. Kudela, N. Pelland, and T. P. Connolly, 2014. Hindcasts of potential harmful algal bloom transport on the Pacific Northwest coast. J. Geophys. Res., 119, 2439–2461, doi:10.1002/2013JC009622
  • Hickey, B. M., V. L. Trainer, P. M. Kosro, N. G. Adams, T. P. Connolly, N. B. Kachel, and S. L. Geier. 2013. A springtime source of toxic Pseudo-nitzschiacells on razor clam beaches in the Pacific Northwest. Harmful Algae, 25, 1­­–14, doi:10.1016/j.hal.2013.01.006
  • Connolly, T. P., B. M. Hickey, S. L. Geier, and W. P. Cochlan, 2010. Processes influencing seasonal hypoxia in the northern California Current System, J. Geophys. Res., 115, C03021, doi:10.1029/2009JC005283

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Physical Oceanography Lab