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Oceanography Seminar

"Shedding New Light on Polarized Light in the Ocean"

Dr. George Kattawar


Life on Earth as we know it could not exist without light in the ocean, nor would there be 'fuel' for the heat engine that drives the ocean's dynamic currents or the atmosphere's vigorous circulation. Light and sound are the two primary means available for probing the ocean. Optical oceanography, which concerns all facets of light, its interactions with seawater, and its ultimate fate, is central to many important studies of the ocean, and is vital to solutions of wide ranging problems, which include photosynthesis, primary productivity, ecosystem dynamics, health of the oceans, seawater clarity, underwater imaging and visibility, biogeochemical cycling, carbon budgets, upper ocean thermodynamics, and global climate change. In this colloquium, we will introduce some of the basic concepts of optical oceanography and describe some of the recent advances in the theory and modeling of the causes and effects of variable light fields in the ocean. In particular, we will focus on the importance of the polarized light field in the ocean and how it has led to some remarkable uses by many marine organisms. We will show how the amazing crypsis ability of cephalopods, which have existed for over 400 million years, can now be modeled using nanophotonics and other tools of physics. The use of circularly polarized light by the mantis shrimp, which has the most sophisticated eye structure in all of nature, will be discussed The future of our oceans and the multitude of living organisms which inhabit it will depend on our ability to learn how anthropogenic activity is affecting its health; understanding how light interacts with both organic and inorganic matter in the ocean is a key aspect to its survival.

Monday, April 20, 2015
Room 112 , 4:00 p.m.
O&M Building

Department of Oceanography