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Oceanography midshipmen scholars publish in leading scientific journal

  POSTED ON: Friday, June 19, 2020 1:38 PM by Alexander R. Davies

Research conducted by two Class of 2019 oceanography majors was recently published in Atmospheric Research Letters, a peer-reviewed and highly regarded scientific journal organized by the Royal Meteorological Society. MIDN 1/C (now ENS) Erin McDonnell and MIDN 1/C (now ENS) Major Henry, along with their advisors in the Oceanography Department, Dr. Bradford S. Barrett and Dr. Gina Henderson, studied the frequency and seasonality of atmospheric flow blocking over Greenland. They then linked extreme blocking events and atmospheric moisture transport.

Atmospheric blocking is an anomalously strong high pressure system that alters the wind patterns both up- and down-stream, and can deflect storms away from their “normal” tracks. ENS McDonnell and ENS Henry found that the frequency of extreme atmospheric blocking events has increased since the turn of the century. In addition, the study found that anomalously high moisture transport into the North Atlantic Arctic region occurs several days before extreme blocking events.

“This research is ground-breaking in that it shows that extreme blocking around Greenland is not only becoming more frequent, but that it also is associated with above-normal moisture transport,” says Barrett. Henderson agrees, “the novelty of this work is Erin and Major focused on extreme blocking, something that has been understudied but is now believed to be associated with ice loss over the Greenland ice sheet.”

MIDN 1/C McDonnell and MIDN 1/C Henry presented their research findings in January 2019 at the 99th Annual American Meteorological Society Meeting in Phoenix, AZ  (pictured above). Both McDonnell and Henry graduated in  May 2019 with a B.S. in Oceanography with Honors. McDonnell and Henry are currently in Pensacola training as Naval Flight Officers.  

This research is supported by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP). Grant Number: RC18‐1658.  Link to the published article:

Category: Press Releases, Research, Academics

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Alexander R. Davies
Oceanography Department, USNA
Oceanography Website