For his postdoc in the University of Haifa’s Department of Marine Geosciences at the Charney School of Marine Sciences, Patrick Gray is investigating the interplay of ocean physics and ecology. He will specifically study how marine plankton communities are affected by lateral stirring and vertical fluxes in the in the Eastern Mediterranean. This region is characterized by an intense gradient of productivity from the coast to the open sea that is highly variable, making it an ideal observatory for such interactions. To understand these fine-scale biophysical interactions, he is further developing methods for using satellite imagery, drones, and ship-based optical measurements to observe phytoplankton productivity and diversity. Combining remote sensing, data science, and biological oceanography, he leans on machine learning and scientific computing tools for parsing large oceanographic datasets.
While a PhD student at the Duke University Marine Laboratory, Dr. Gray was already making an important contribution to the rapidly developing use of aerial drones to observe life in the ocean, particularly at small scales (<1km). Important physical and biological processes happen at this small scale, but they are challenging to observe with conventional methods. Supported by a highly competitive NASA FINESST grant, his pioneering work is likely to have a dramatic impact on our ability to observe our oceans.
Dr. Gray has led several complex oceanographic research cruises that bridge disciplines (physical and biological oceanography, microbial ecology, ocean optics, and remote sensing) to better understand how biological communities are structured by the Gulf Stream in the Western Atlantic. In addition to his work on the Gulf Stream he has used drones to study sea ice patterns in Antarctica, glacial outflows in Iceland, and the changing coastlines and wetlands of North Carolina.
Dr. Gray’s research is critical for a fundamental understanding of ocean ecosystems and forecasting how marine systems will change in a warming ocean.