Colloquium 2002


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34th International Liège Colloquium on Ocean Dynamics

Tracer methods in geophysical fluid dynamics

Liège, May 6-10 2002


General introduction

Natural processes or man's activities introduce into the ocean and the atmosphere constituents - or tracers - that are transported subsequently at various time and space scales. Decades of measurements have generated huge data sets of the concentration of some of these tracers. Dealing with these figures is far from trivial, the main reason thereof being that there are so many of them. This is why specific methods have been designed for handling, validating and intercomparing these data. The latter are now routinely used for calibrating and validating - often in qualitative manner only - dynamic models. Recently, tracer methods have been developed for obtaining quantitative information about marine flows from tracer data, which include inverse methods allowing the circulation to be inferred from tracer and density data. Other methods aim at diagnosing certain aspects of the circulation in the ocean or the stratosphere by using in situ measurements of tracer concentration or numerically simulating the fate of natural or artificial tracers. On occasions, timescale are determined, such as ages, transit times or residence times, leading to an improved understanding of the dynamics of the system under study.

The above-mentioned techniques all require the knowledge of tracer concentration fields and raise the following questions:

- What can be inferred from tracer concentration measurements or simulation ?

- What is the impact of subgrid-scale phenomena ?

- How important is temporal and spatial variability ?

- What are the errors associated with tracer methods ?

Papers dealing with any aspect of tracer methods may be submitted, including theoretical, observational and numerical approaches. Contributions related to climatological analyses of marine data will also be highly appreciated. Studies related to atmospheric processes are welcome, especially if they deal with methods that can be of use in marine applications.

International Scientific Organizing Committee

E. BALOPOULOS, National Center for Marine Research, Athens, EU.
P. BERNAL, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
P. BRASSEUR, University of Grenoble, EU.
E. DELEERSNIJDER, University of Louvain, EU.
E.J.M. DELHEZ, University of Liège, EU.
M. ENGLAND, University of South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
M. FIADERO, Office of Naval Research, USA.
T. HAINE, John Hopkins University, Baltimore , USA.
T. HALL, NASA Goddard Institute Space Studies, New York, USA.
W. JENKINS, Southampton Oceanography Centre, EU.
S. LEVITUS, NODC Ocean Climate Laboratory, Silver Spring, USA.
E. MAIER-REIMER, Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, Hamburg, EU.
J.C.J. NIHOUL, University of Liège, EU, Chairman.
J. ORR, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, Gif-sur-Yvette, EU.
M. A. PEDDER, University of Reading, EU.
R. A. PLUMB, Massachussets Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA.
M. RIXEN, University of Liège, EU.
R. SCHLITZER, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, EU.



Local Organizing Committee


N. D'Archambeau, S. Houten and Ch. Winand

Address :

GHER - Modelenvironment
University of Liège
Sart Tilman, B5
B-4000 Liège, Belgium

Phone : +32 4 366 33 50
Fax : +32 4 366 23 55
e-mail :



The members of the Organizing Committees wish to express their gratitude to the :

for their valuable assistance in organizing the Colloquium.




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