Research group

Physical and Technological Oceanography

Climate change, oceanic circulation, turbulence, remote sensing, ocean modelling, data assimilation, novel in situ technologies

The Physical and Technological Oceanography Group focuses on the study of the physical properties of the ocean, its behavior and role in the climate of the Earth using the principle of fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. It is the largest Spanish physical oceanography department and that with the most extensive scientific production. Its interests focus on the observation (both in situ and remote sensing) and analysis of the ocean physical environment at a broad range of spatio-temporal scales. Its members include physicists, engineers, and oceanographers with complementary skills that work together to further our understanding of the ocean dynamics by combining experimental, numerical and theoretical approaches. The group members are especially committed at mentoring students and offering specialized courses, participating in numerous public outreach activities.

Most relevant information


    C. Gabarró: Spanish delegate to the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC); Secretaria de la Sección de Ciencias Criosféricas de la Comisión Española de Geodesia y Geofísica.

    J. Isern-Fontanet: Member of ICATMAR Steering Committee.

    J.L. Pelegrí: Member of the Science Team on Observing and Modeling the Meridional Overturning Circulation in the South Atlantic; Member of ICATMAR Steering Committee.

    M. Portabella: Member of the ESA & EUMETSAT SCA Science Advisory Group (SAG); Chairman of the Barcelona Expert Centre (BEC).

    A. Turiel: Member of the SMOS Quality Working Group (QWG); Coordinator of CSIC’s Interdisciplinary Platform Teledetect.

    C. González-Haro Co-chair of the Task Team on Feature Fidelity of the GHRSST.

    • Isern-Fontanet, Jordi; Turiel, Antonio;

      On the Connection between Intermittency and Dissipation in Ocean Turbulence: A Multifractal Approach

    • Olivé Abelló, Anna; Pelegrí, Josep Lluís; Machín, Francisco; Vallès Casanova, Ignasi Berenguer;

      The Transfer of Antarctic Circumpolar Waters to the Western South Atlantic Ocean

    • Olmedo, Estrella; González-Haro, Cristina; Hoareau, Nina; Umbert, Marta; González Gambau, Verónica; Martínez, Justino; Gabarró, Carolina; Turiel, Antonio;

      Nine years of SMOS sea surface salinity global maps at the Barcelona Expert Center

    • Umbert, Marta; Gabarró, Carolina; Olmedo, Estrella; Gonçalves, Rafael; Guimbard, Sébastien; Martínez, Justino;

      Using Remotely Sensed Sea Surface Salinity and Colored Detrital Matter to Characterize Freshened Surface Layers in the Kara and Laptev Seas during the Ice-Free Season
    • Viúdez, Álvaro;

      Robust and unstable axisymmetric vortices, including neutral vortices, of a new two-dimensional vortex family

    • MEDOSMoSIS - Mediterranean governance for Strategic Maritime SurveIllance and Safety issues

      Period: from 2019 to 2022
      Funding entity:
      INTERREG MED V-B 2014-2020
      Principal Investigator:
      García Ladona, Emilio Ramón, Physical and Technological Oceanography
      Amount awarded:

      The MEDOSMoSIS objective is the development of a number of modules/applications regarding Maritime Surveillance activities
      and to facilitate information exchanges that will support the further development of a regional/local smart plug-in capability
      supporting interoperable, transnational sectoral systems, ensuring their regional, deployable and mobile interface, in order to
      Enhance in-situ Situational Awareness, wherever needed in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic approaches. It will explore the
      application of the current guidelines and capabilities of the ongoing evolution of the CISE data exchange model.
      It will carry pilot activities and capitalization actions to test,disseminate and distribute tools and protocols among partners
      either as being potential users but also as intermediaries to reach no participant entities.

      As the MED Program aims to benefit from appropriate tools and mechanism to ease the implementation of better governance
      and thematic integration in the Mediterranean and contribute to shared operational plans on the overall area in key sectors of
      maritime surveillance, it is an enormous and challenging opportunity to seek for the demands among the National authorities
      carrying out Maritime Surveillance functions in the needs of operational infrastructure that cover marine spatial information
      obligations stemming from European Directives, initiatives and policies, in terms of maritime surveillance and safety.

    • DYNACLIM - Ocean DYNAmics reconstruction using remotely sensed variables in two CLIMate hotspots

      Period: from 2019 to 2023
      Funding entity:
      Amount awarded:

      DYNACLIM project aims to exploit L-band remote sensing salinity products in synergy with surface temperature and sea surface height to better estimate oceanic currents in the Arctic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. To this end, surface quasi-geostrophic methodologies are used to characterize the 3D ocean dynamics.

    • INTERACT - Synergistic approaches for a new generation of Earth Observation products and Applications

      Period: from 2021 to 2024
      Funding entity:
      Principal Investigator:
      Portabella Arnus, Marcos, Physical and Technological Oceanography
      Amount awarded:


      INTERACT aims at new Earth Observation (EO) variables and at operational and climate applications, based on the capability capitalization of three teams (CSIC, UPC and USAL) with long joint research trajectory on satellite remote sensing (RS). The cornerstones of INTERACT are i) the definition of new EO concepts based on the synergy of missions, variables and applications, creating new, added-value assets; ii) the capitalization of the RS expertise of the teams; and iii) the integration of such assets in the Barcelona Expert Center (BEC) production and distribution system to reach the community at large. In an age of intense and rapid changes in the economy and the environment, INTERACT aim is beyond established, monolithic paradigms of single missions, single variables, to better respond to the societal needs. Synergy at all levels (instrumental, variable, application) is the leitmotiv of INTERACT. Thanks to this synergistic approach, INTERACT gathers together the expertise on data processing and aims at a new generation of EO products, with a special focus on long-term series of enhanced spatio-temporal resolution variables: sea surface salinity on semi-enclosed seas and polar regions, sea ice parameters, wind forcing, coastal and extreme ocean winds, chlorophyll concentration, water quality, vegetation optical depth, plant water content, vegetation biomass, etc. New and enhanced information content is generated to address crucial scientific questions: Which changes are taking place on the ocean surface due to climate change? How are fast mesoscale convective systems affecting the atmospheric flow? Can we forecast the next crop yield with good accuracy? Which is the impact of the changes in land runoff? Are climate patterns modifying soil moisture, affecting vegetation hydric stress and favoring risks like wildfires, floods and disease spread? The vertex of this synergistic, integrative effort of INTERACT is the assembling of some major pieces of the Earth system (interactions between ocean, atmosphere and land), aiming at variables never previously described by RS means.

    • Project Marine Atmosphere eXtreme Satellite Synergy-MAXSS Ref. IFREMER 21/1001560

      Period: from 2021 to 2023
      Funding company:
      Person in charge:
      Portabella Arnus, Marcos, Physical and Technological Oceanography

      Extreme wind events occupy an increasing place in the mass media as they have direct societal and economic implications (human loss, material destructions, etc.), and are expected to become more destructive in the future as a consequence of global warming. Besides global warming, societies and economies are becoming increasingly vulnerable to extremes. The primary objective of the project is to provide guidance and innovative methodologies to maximize the synergetic use of available Earth Observation data (satellite, in situ) to improve understanding about the multi-scale dynamical characteristics of extreme air-sea interaction events. We further postulate that systematic collocations between medium (e.g. ASCAT) and low resolution (SMOS, SMAP, AMRS-2, CYGNSS) satellite observations with high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and in situ reference estimates from the Step Frequency Microwave radiometer (SFMR) and dropsondes acquired by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) P-3 hurricane “hunter” flights will serve to compare and homogenize all these different measurements. In turn, these homogenized multi-modal measurements, with more complete global space-time sampling of surface winds, will be integrated into a single, new wind product. The main ambition will then be to provide quantifiable measures of the accuracy of the most severe storm dynamics from these products, and to derive extreme wind climate and trend analysis. These new products will be complemented by the collection of other parameters (waves, pycnocline uplift, sea surface temperature, salinity, and height, etc.) to help describe extreme ocean-atmosphere interactions and consolidate a first storm-atlas.

      75000 €