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New ocean modelling expertise at SAEON

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Ben assesses a regional model simulation, a typical day for the dry oceanographer

In July, SAEON increased its ocean modelling capability, adding post-doctoral researcher Ben Loveday to the Egagasini team.

His role at SAEON will build on his expertise gained with the Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) during his PhD. Moving from the basin to coastal scale, Ben aims to develop new model configurations that will employ high-resolution “nests” to capture specific coastal and shelf scale processes (model animations). These new configurations will offer a physical oceanographic framework from which to expand coupled modelling capacity in South Africa.

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Ben finishing a dive at Miller’s Point in False Bay

In parallel, he plans to develop Lagrangian transport, bio-optical and atmospheric models to increase our understanding of the circulation and dynamics of St Helena Bay and Algoa Bay. With an already substantial record of successful collaborative, cross-disciplinary research, Ben hopes to use his time with SAEON to develop further collaborations, with a particular emphasis on supporting the training of young South African scientists.

Originally from the UK, a background in physics (BSc/MSc: University of Durham) proved invaluable during his later studies in oceanography (MSc: University of Southampton, PhD: University of Cape Town). Growing up and working around the world, Ben has dipped his toes in as many of the world’s oceans as possible, with a passion for scuba diving eventually leading him back to ocean research via a career in the private sector.

Ocean modelling

The oceans around South Africa are among the most complex in the world. Ben’s thesis, which formed part of the Marie Curie EU FP7 ‘GATEWAYS’ programme, focused on the sensitivity of the greater Agulhas System to changes in the large-scale wind field, and the potential consequences for inter-basin transport through the Agulhas leakage. The interaction between shelf topography and western boundary current detachment formed a central part of this research, and motivated the desire to explore the local effects of this behaviour on the shelf and the specifics of the jet system connecting the east and west coasts.

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