Campus Map

Suzanne Dickinson

Oceanographer IV





Research Interests

Data Analysis, Computer Programming


Suzanne Dickinson processes and analyzes satellite observations over the world's oceans as part of an effort to better understand ocean-atmosphere coupling and other dynamical ocean processes. The primary datasets include wind vectors derived from scatterometer measurements and other satellite measurements.

Ms. Dickinson is also responsible for processing and analyzing other datasets, including TAO buoy data and general circulation model analyses, and for data comparisons to check measurement accuracy. She has authored or co-authored technical reports and refereed journal publications and develops analysis and graphics programs. Ms. Dickinson has been with the Laboratory since 1997.

Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center


B.A. Physics, Boston University, 1984

M.S. Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, 1994


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Arctic ice–ocean coupling and gyre equilibration observed with remote sensing

Dewey, S., J. Morison, R. Kwok, S. Dickinson, D. Morison, and R. Andersen, "Arctic ice–ocean coupling and gyre equilibration observed with remote sensing," Geophys. Res. Lett., 45, 1499-1508, doi:10.1002/2017GL076229, 2018.

More Info

16 Feb 2018

Model and observational evidence has shown that ocean current speeds in the Beaufort Gyre have increased and recently stabilized. Because these currents rival ice drift speeds, we examine the potential for the Beaufort Gyre's shift from a system in which the wind drives the ice and the ice drives a passive ocean to one in which the ocean often, in the absence of high winds, drives the ice. The resultant stress exerted on the ocean by the ice and the resultant Ekman pumping are reversed, without any change in average wind stress curl. Through these curl reversals, the ice‐ocean stress provides a key feedback in Beaufort Gyre stabilization. This manuscript constitutes one of the first observational studies of ice‐ocean stress inclusive of geostrophic ocean currents, by making use of recently available remote sensing data.

A meteoric water budget for the Arctic Ocean

Alkire, M.B., J. Morison, A. Schweiger, J. Zhang, M. Steele, C. Peralta-Ferriz, and S. Dickinson, "A meteoric water budget for the Arctic Ocean," J. Geophys. Res., EOR, doi:10.1002/2017JC012807, 2017.

More Info

6 Oct 2017

A budget of meteoric water (MW = river runoff, net precipitation minus evaporation, and glacial meltwater) over four regions of the Arctic Ocean is constructed using a simple box model, regional precipitation-evaporation estimates from reanalysis data sets, and estimates of import and export fluxes derived from the literature with a focus on the 2003–2008 period. The budget indicates an approximate/slightly positive balance between MW imports and exports (i.e., no change in storage); thus, the observed total freshwater increase observed during this time period likely resulted primarily from changes in non-MW freshwater components (i.e., increases in sea ice melt or Pacific water and/or a decrease in ice export). Further, our analysis indicates that the MW increase observed in the Canada Basin resulted from a spatial redistribution of MW over the Arctic Ocean. Mean residence times for MW were estimated for the Western Arctic (5–7 years), Eastern Arctic (3–4 years), and Lincoln Sea (1–2 years). The MW content over the Siberian shelves was estimated (~14,000 km3) based on a residence time of 3.5 years. The MW content over the entire Arctic Ocean was estimated to be ≥ 44,000 km3. The MW export through Fram Strait consisted mostly of water from the Eastern Arctic (3237 ± 1370 km3 yr-1) whereas the export through the Canadian Archipelago was nearly equally derived from both the Western Arctic (1182 ± 534 km3 yr-1) and Lincoln Sea (972 ± 391 km3 yr-1).

The phenology of Arctic Ocean surface warming

Steele, M., and S. Dickinson, "The phenology of Arctic Ocean surface warming," J. Geophys. Res., 121, 6847-6861, doi:10.1002/2016JC012089, 2016.

More Info

15 Sep 2016

In this work, we explore the seasonal relationships (i.e., the phenology) between sea ice retreat, sea surface temperature (SST), and atmospheric heat fluxes in the Pacific Sector of the Arctic Ocean, using satellite and reanalysis data. We find that where ice retreats early in most years, maximum summertime SSTs are usually warmer, relative to areas with later retreat. For any particular year, we find that anomalously early ice retreat generally leads to anomalously warm SSTs. However, this relationship is weak in the Chukchi Sea, where ocean advection plays a large role. It is also weak where retreat in a particular year happens earlier than usual, but still relatively late in the season, primarily because atmospheric heat fluxes are weak at that time. This result helps to explain the very different ocean warming responses found in two recent years with extreme ice retreat, 2007 and 2012. We also find that the timing of ice retreat impacts the date of maximum SST, owing to a change in the ocean surface buoyancy and momentum forcing that occurs in early August that we term the Late Summer Transition (LST). After the LST, enhanced mixing of the upper ocean leads to cooling of the ocean surface even while atmospheric heat fluxes are still weakly downward. Our results indicate that in the near-term, earlier ice retreat is likely to cause enhanced ocean surface warming in much of the Arctic Ocean, although not where ice retreat still occurs late in the season.

More Publications

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center