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Melissa Moulton

Research Scientist/Engineer Senior





Research Interests

Coastal and Nearshore Processes, Environmental Fluid Mechanics, Remote Sensing, Beach Hazard Prediction


Dr. Moulton's recent research includes studying strong, offshore-directed jets known as rip currents which can carry pollutants, larvae, and heat from the shoreline to the inner shelf and are hazardous to swimmers. Her work seeks to improve understanding and prediction of rip currents using field observations and numerical simulations. (http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/the-riddle-of-rip-currents) In addition, Dr. Moulton is investigating inner shelf processes using airborne remote sensing, drifters, and numerical models.


B.A. Physics, Amherst College, 2009

Ph.D. Physical Oceanography, MIT/WHOI Joint Program, 2016


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Inner Shelf Dynamics Science and Experiment Plan

Feddersen, F., et al., "Inner Shelf Dynamics Science and Experiment Plan," APL-UW TR 1602, Technical Report, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, October 2016, 35pp.

More Info

31 Oct 2016

The deep ocean, continental shelf, and surf zone are defined by their unique physical processes and dynamics. The nearshore region from about 50 m water depth to the outer edge of the surf zone (SZ) is known as the inner shelf. This region is characterized by overlapping and interacting surface and bottom boundary layers. At the offshore side of the inner shelf, instabilities from wind-driven currents and fronts create cross-shelf meanders and eddies. In addition, energetic nonlinear internal waves (NLIWs) are ubiquitous on the inner shelf.

To understand and predict the exchange of water properties (heat, gases, sediment, pollutants, biota) across the inner shelf over a range of temporal and spatial scales, the Office of Naval Research Inner Shelf Dynamics Departmental Research Initiative (Inner Shelf DRI) is coordinating field observations (in situ and remote sensing) coupled to numerical modeling efforts on a 50-km section of coast off Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, located in the vicinity of Point Sal. The overall goal is to develop and improve the predictive capability of a range of numerical models to simulate the 3D circulation, density, and surface wave field across the inner shelf associated with a broad array of physical processes and complex bathymetry.

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