Tom Haine

Thomas Haine

Morton K. Blaustein Chair and Professor of
Earth & Planetary Sciences,

Professor of Physical Oceanography


301 & 329 Olin Hall
(410) 516-7048
(410) 516-7933
Thomas.Haine at 
Earth & Planetary Sciences,
329 Olin Hall
34th and North Charles St.
Johns Hopkins University,
Baltimore, MD 21218 USA

Ocean Circulation and Dynamics; Ocean's role in Climate

My overall research interest is the fundamental understanding of the physics of the basin-scale ocean and its role in Earth's climate. I am involved in improving estimates of the geophysical state of the ocean circulation through analysis of field data and circulation model results. The subpolar North Atlantic ventilation process (rates, pathways, variability, and mechanisms) interests me in particular. I also investigate key physical processes that maintain the state of the extra-tropical upper ocean focusing on fluid dynamics and thermodynamics and their role in controlling sea surface temperature variability over years to decades.

Knowledge of these processes is vital if we are to describe and understand climatic fluctuations on time-scales of years to decades. At these low frequencies one must accept that the ocean and atmosphere are components of a coupled system. Understanding low frequency natural climate perturbations is clearly a problem of special current relevance. Further, explaining natural climate variability is a pre-requisite of addressing man-kind's effect on global climate.

Academic Background

2012 Morton K. Blaustein Chair and Professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University.
Assistant, Associate, then Full Professor, Johns Hopkins University.
1996 University Lecturer in Physics, University of Oxford, UK.
1994 Postdoc, MIT.
1993 Ph.D. Physical Oceanography, University of Southampton, UK.
1992 M.A. Physics & Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, UK.
1988 B.A. Physics & Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, UK

Recent full CV with full publication list

 Current Research Projects | Talks | Group | Classes | News | Preprints & Publications

Current Research Projects

Schematic TTDs figure

Tracers & Transport Diagnostics

We aim to identify and understand the tracer-independent transport information contained in ocean tracer data. With collaborators, I have developed some new, powerful theoretical tools and I am applying them to diagnose transport timescales and water-mass composition in the North Atlantic ocean. We are also exploiting the ideas to estimate the oceanic burden of anthropogenic carbon - the new methods have distinct advantages. My long-term aim is to synthesize these ideas about passive tracer transport with potential vorticity theories (that is, dynamically-active tracer theories) of the ocean general circulation.

I work on this topic with Stephen Jeffress, Tim Hall and Darryn Waugh.

In summer 2011 I co-organized the International Workshop / School on Tracer and Timescale Methods for Understanding Complex Geophysical and Environmental Processes, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Our latest work is focused on interpreting time-lagged correlations from oceanographic timeseries data.

Subpolar NAtl. Circulation schematic

Subpolar Atlantic Circulation & Dynamics

The goal is to better understand the circulation and dynamics of the Denmark Strait, East Greenland Shelf, and Irminger Sea. Diagnosing and monitoring the flow in this area is critical to estimate the state and variability of the meridional overturning circulation in the North Atlantic ocean. My approach is to use high-resolution numerical models, state-of-the-art data assimilation, and collaborate with observational oceanographers and atmospheric scientists working this area. 

This project contributes to the international Arctic-Subarctic Ocean Flux (ASOF) study: I am chair of the International Scientific Steering Group for this program.

Some recent animations of our 2km, 97-level simulation of overflow through Denmark Strait are here (from High-frequency fluctuations in Denmark Strait transport) and here (from On the nature and variability of the East Greenland Spill Jet: A case study in summer 2003).

We're particularly interested in the role of sub-mesoscale atmospheric motions on subpolar ocean circulation, and collaborate with atmospheric scientists on this topic. See this clip for an impression of the Irminger Sea atmospheric boundary layer from the FAAM research aircraft at 100feet!

See our project page on: Pathways and transformation of the Denmark Strait Overflow Water in the Irminger Basin.

Recently, we've started working on a collaborative project to quantify and understand the role of the warming ocean on melt of Greenland's glaciers. The new project page is: Submarine Melting of Greenland's Glaciers: What are the Relevant Ocean Dynamics?

I'm also interested in the environmental knowledge of Norse colonists to Iceland, Greenland and North America in the middle ages.

I work on this topic with Mike Spall, Kial Stewart, Marcello Magaldi, Inga Koszalka, Alex Fuller, Bob Pickart, Fiamma Straneo, researchers at the Oceans & Climate group of GFDL and the Greenland Flow Distortion Experiment.


Geophysical Fluid Dynamics

We want to understand the dynamics of rotating stratified fluids in laboratory experiments involving non-linear interactions.  Fascinating measurements by Paul Williams shows that large-scale, low-frequency balanced motions can spontaneously emit short fast waves in a laboratory experiment (see this movie). This presents a challenge to theorists who have quite strong evidence that this should not occur. We are trying to understand what's going on.

I work on this topic with Dawn Ring, Paul Williams, Greg Eyink, and Peter Read.

L63 sensitivty

Fundamental Ideas in Climate Sensitivity

Aim: To identify and understand the dynamic and thermodynamic mechanisms controlling midlatitude interannual SST variability. My focus is on internal ocean processes (advection, mixing, and waves) and their ability to carry signals from remote places in space and time. The ventilation process (see above) has a leading part to play. There are several fundamental issues about how these control mechanisms might operate, or even be described. Interestingly, this issue is closely related to problems in solid state theory and statistical physics. These topics all have roots in the theory of non-equilibrium dynamical systems. This subject is another area of interest for me.

I work on this topic with Greg Eyink and Stephen Jeffress. See, for example, Eyink et al. 2004.

Weather in a Tank image

Teaching Rotating Stratified Fluid Dynamics

To explore and develop the use of rotating tank experiments in undergraduate teaching of oceanic and atmospheric science. To visit schools and talk about oceans, atmospheres, climate, and high-latitude exploration.

I work on this topic with the Deepak Cherian, who was an undergraduate intern in my group in 2009, Robbie Nedbor-Gross and the Weather in a Tank team based at MIT. See our recent article on gyroscopes in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Schools (and grades) I've visited:
  • Dulaney Day School (kindergarten),
  • Stoneleigh Elementary School (3rd grade),
  • Milbrook Elementary School (3rd and 5th grades),
  • Rodgers Forge Elementary School (5th grade),
  • Summit Park Elementary School (5th grade),
  • Calcot Infants School (UK; years 1 and 3),
  • Johns Hopkins Quarknet program (high-school science teachers).
Contact me if you want to arrange a visit.

GasEx map

Biophysical Controls on CDOM  

We aim to diagnose and understand the physical and biogeochemical processes affecting colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM), especially in the high latitude oceans.

I work on this topic with the Suneet Dwivedi and Carlos Del Castillo at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. We are involved with the Southern Ocean GasEx project.

Our 2012 Ocean Sciences poster is here and our latest manuscript is here.

The SOGasEx project recently won a NASA Group Achievement Award!

Much of our research involves comparing numerical circulation models with observations. I have two clusters of linux workstations to perform the demanding calculations, we also use other clusters and national supercomputer centers for our work. Please contact me for access to our model results. I'm a member of the Hopkins Institute for Data Intensive Engineering & Science (IDIES) and a committee member of the Homewood High-Performance Cluster (HHPC).

We are active participants in the Center for Environmental & Applied Fluid Mechanics (CEAFM; I'm the Deputy Director) - a group of Hopkins researchers working on all aspects of fluid mechanics. I'm also a PI on the JHU IGERT program in Modelling Complex Systems, which is an exciting initiative to train a new generation of researchers in science-based coupling of models and parameterizations.

Our projects are sponsored by the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Johns Hopkins University, and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Agency. We greatly appreciate their support!  (Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of these agencies).



See these talks by Tom:





Current Group: 
  • Alex Fuller is a graduate student in our group, and we're looking for more students! Interested in joining us?
  • Emily Marshall and Richard Kelson are undergraduates working on circulation on the East Greenland Shelf.
  • Drs. Inga Koszalka and Marcello Magaldi are currently working with my group.
  • I'm also looking for other talented ambitious post docs (or research scientists) to work on North Atlantic ocean circulation, modelling, and data assimilation. I have vacancies for students to start in 2015!

Former PhD Students: 

  • Stephen Jeffress completed his PhD thesis (2014) and begun a post doc in Atmospheric, Oceanic & Planetary Physics, University of Oxford.
  • Dawn Ring completed her PhD thesis (2009), and moved to be an assistant Professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology, MA.
  • Bin Zhao completed his PhD thesis (2005) and begun a post doc with UCLA and LANL. He now works at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. 
  • Hong Zhang also finished his PhD (2005) and is now working as a post doc at JPL and Caltech. 
  • Fiona Eccles, who worked on rotating stratified fluid dynamics for her 2003 D.Phil., is now training as a neuro-psychologist. 
  • Paul Williams was a NERC Fellow at the University of Reading after finishing his D.Phil. in 2003, and is now a Royal Society Fellow, still based in Reading. 
  • Daniel Lea finished his D.Phil. in 2001 on ocean data assimilation, worked with me for a while, then moved to the U.K. Met. Office.

Former Post Docs:  

  • Kial Stewart has begun a Fellowship at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
  • Matthew Hoffman began an Assistant Professorship at Rochester Institute of Technology, NY, in Fall 2011.
  • Marcello Magaldi moved to the Istituto di Scienze Marine in Lerrici, Italy. Marcello continues to collaborate with us from his new position.
  • Santha Akella now works at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
  • Suneet Dwivedi has returned to the University of Allahabad where he is an Associate Professor in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences department. 
  • Erik Kvaleberg has moved to Bergen, Norway as a consultant to the Norwegian Navy.
  • Maelle Nodet has moved to a faculty position at the University of Grenoble. 
  • Daniel Lea is a former student from Oxford who was a post doc at Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Laboratory working with me, but moved to the U.K. Met. Office in 2005. 
  • Sue Gray and Martina Junge were post docs who worked with me in Oxford on North Atlantic circulation and dynamics. Sue is a faculty member at the University of Reading and Martina is a researcher at the University of Hamburg.

Cash Prizes:
Since 1997 students in my group have won 10 prizes for their research projects. They have also published articles, or been featured, in New Scientist, Weather, newspaper articles, radio interviews, press releases, and alumni magazines. Well done folks!

Prospective students: I look for curious, motivated and creative students who are interested in physical oceanography and have very good skills in physics, applied mathematics, fluid dynamics, and/or scientific computing. If you think you fit this description and are interested in our research please contact me directly about opportunities: I'm always looking for good students. The unique environment at EPS and in CEAFM gives unrivaled opportunities for fundamental research in physical oceanography with connections to climate dynamics and fluid mechanics. The chance to pursue a CEAFM dual-degree in another JHU department is a particular strength of our world-class program. Packages covering 100% tuition and stipend are available!





In Fall 2014 I'm teaching 270.307 Geoscience Modeling. In Spring 2015 I'll co-teach 270.224 Oceans & Atmospheres.


Preprints & Publications

Click the links for pdf format or email me for hard copy.

My google scholar page (with links to all publications). 

Recent full CV with full publication list.