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Posted on Oct 14, 2014 by admin

Dr. Parker MacCready of University of Washington will give the second Future of Oceans lecture at the Chapel of Fort Worden, Port Townsend on Sunday, November 2 at 3:00 pm.  The subject is The Tides and Eddies in Puget Sound.

This series of five lectures, presented by Port Townsend Marine Sciences Center, began with  ‘el Niño, the boy wonder of climate’ , presented by Dr. Michael McPhaden of NOAA,  on Oct. 5.  McPhaden drew an enthusiastic standing-room only crowd of over 200 to Fort Worden’s Chapel.

November’s lecturer, Parker MacCready, is Professor of Oceanography in the University of Washington’s College of the Environment.  He has worked for the past 15 years studying tidal currents and general circulation of Pacific Ocean waters, including a number of projects in Puget Sound and the San Juans.  His work combines detailed field studies with realistic computer models, trying to discover the processes that turn the energy of tides, winds, and rivers into the circulation patterns that control the biological productivity of the Puget Sound estuary.

In this talk he will explore the tides in Puget Sound, from their astronomical origin to the the extraordinary fronts and eddies so apparent to boaters.  This then leads to consideration of the turbulent mixing these eddies cause, and how it drives a large, persistent current of deep Pacific water though the Sound.  It is this persistent circulation, many times greater than that of all our rivers, that brings nutrients which feed the abundant growth of phytoplankton in our waters.

MacCready began his exploration of moving fluids with human-powered vehicles. His research career was stimulated by his father, Paul MacCready, who created the first human powered aircraft, the Gossamer Condor.  As a teenager, Parker MacCready was one of its first cyclist/test pilots.   Their second aircraft, the 70 lb. Gossamer Albatross, hangs in the Museum of Flight, in Seattle: this was the first human powered vehicle to cross the 22-mile wide English Channel, on June 12, 1979.  At California Institute of Technology, the younger MacCready built a human powered hydrofoil craft for his Master of Science degree.  He then completed his Ph.D. research at University of Washington, producing a new theory of the circulation of the deepest layers of the ocean, which overturned traditional ideas about the way the ocean interacts with its coasts and bottom.

The Future of Oceans lecture series can be explored further at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center’s website, www.ptmsc.org , where Dr. McPhaden’s lecture slides from the first in the series, “el Niño: Boy Wonder of Climate Change” are posted.