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Cecilia Peralta Ferriz

Senior Oceanographer





Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center


B.S. Oceanography, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, 2004

M.S. Physical Oceanography, University of Washington, 2008

Ph.D. Physical Oceanography, University of Washington, 2012


2000-present and while at APL-UW

The cyclonic mode of Arctic Ocean circulation

Morison, J., R. Kwok, S. Dickinson, R. Andersen, C. Peralta-Ferriz, D. Morison, I. Rigor, S. Dewey, and J. Guthrie, "The cyclonic mode of Arctic Ocean circulation," J. Phys. Oceanogr., 51, 1053–1075, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-20-0190.1, 2021.

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1 Apr 2021

Arctic Ocean surface circulation change should not be viewed as the strength of the anticyclonic Beaufort Gyre. While the Beaufort Gyre is a dominant feature of average Arctic Ocean surface circulation, empirical orthogonal function analysis of dynamic height (1950–1989) and satellite altimetry-derived dynamic ocean topography (2004–-2019) show the primary pattern of variability in its cyclonic mode is dominated by a depression of the sea surface and cyclonic surface circulation on the Russian side of the Arctic Ocean. Changes in surface circulation after AO maxima in 1989 and 2007–08 and after an AO minimum in 2010, indicate the cyclonic mode is forced by the Arctic Oscillation (AO) with a lag of about one year. Associated with a one standard deviation increase in the average AO starting in the early 1990s, Arctic Ocean surface circulation underwent a cyclonic shift evidenced by increased spatial-average vorticity. Under increased AO, the cyclonic mode complex also includes increased export of sea ice and near-surface freshwater, a changed path of Eurasian runoff, a freshened Beaufort Sea, and weakened cold halocline layer that insulates sea ice from Atlantic water heat, an impact compounded by increased Atlantic Water inflow and cyclonic circulation at depth. The cyclonic mode's connection with the AO is important because the AO is a major global scale climate index predicted to increase with global warming. Given the present bias in concentration of in situ measurements in the Beaufort Gyre and Transpolar Drift, a coordinated effort should be made to better observe the cyclonic mode.

A red tide in the pack ice of the Arctic Ocean

Olsen, L.M., and 13 others including C. Peralta-Ferriz, "A red tide in the pack ice of the Arctic Ocean," Sci. Rep., 9, 9536, doi:0.1038/s41598-019-45935-0, 2019.

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2 Jul 2019

In the Arctic Ocean ice algae constitute a key ecosystem component and the ice algal spring bloom a critical event in the annual production cycle. The bulk of ice algal biomass is usually found in the bottom few cm of the sea ice and dominated by pennate diatoms attached to the ice matrix. Here we report a red tide of the phototrophic ciliate Mesodinium rubrum located at the ice–water interface of newly formed pack ice of the high Arctic in early spring. These planktonic ciliates are not able to attach to the ice. Based on observations and theory of fluid dynamics, we propose that convection caused by brine rejection in growing sea ice enabled M. rubrum to bloom at the ice–water interface despite the relative flow between water and ice. We argue that red tides of M. rubrum are more likely to occur under the thinning Arctic sea ice regime.

Freshwater export in the East Greenland Current freshens the North Atlantic

de Steur, L., C. Peralta-Ferriz, and O. Pavlova, "Freshwater export in the East Greenland Current freshens the North Atlantic," Geophys. Res. Lett., 45, 13359-13366, doi:10.1029/2018GL080207, 2018.

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28 Dec 2018

Arctic Ocean freshwater content increased in the 2000s. Since variations in freshwater input into the North Atlantic Ocean can modify its properties, monitoring the freshwater export from the Arctic Ocean to southern latitudes is critical. The Arctic Outflow Observatory in Fram Strait has collected continuous ocean measurements from moored platforms since 1997. Here new and improved records of freshwater transport from the mooring array are presented until 2015, showing that, since the last documented record in 2009, the freshwater export was substantially larger from 2010 to 2013. The increase was mostly due to increased southward flow, and secondly due to low salinities. While sea level pressure gradient across the strait explains seasonal variability, it does not explain the observed freshwater anomaly. The cumulative freshwater anomaly between 2010 and 2014 amounted to 3,684 km3, representing a significant external source of freshwater to the North Atlantic.

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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