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John Mickett

Senior Oceanographer





Department Affiliation

Ocean Physics


B.S. Marine Science, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, 1994

M.S. Physical Oceanography, University of Washington - Seattle, 2002

Ph.D. Physical Oceanography, University of Washington - Seattle, 2007


Submesoscale Mixed-Layer Dynamics at a Mid-Latitude Oceanic Front

SMILE: the Submesoscale MIxed-Layer Eddies experiment

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1 Mar 2017

This experiment is aimed at increasing our understanding of the role of lateral processes in mixed-layer dynamics through a series of ship surveys and Lagrangian array deployments. Instrument deployments and surveys target the upper ocean's adjustment to winter atmospheric forcing events in the North Pacific subtropical front, roughly 800 km north of Hawaii.

This study will improve understanding of 1–10-km scale lateral processes in three-dimensional mixed-layer dynamics in a region of above-average atmospheric forcing, typical mid-ocean mesoscale advection and straining, and typical submesoscale activity. The results will improve the physical basis of mixed-layer parameterizations, leading to better model predictions of air-sea fluxes, gas transfer, and biological productivity.

Tasmania Internal Tide Experiment

The Tasmanian continental slope will be instrumented with a range of tools including moored profiler, chi-pods, CTDs, and gliders to understand the process, strength, and distribution of ocean mixing from breaking internal waves.

27 Nov 2011

Samoan Passage Abyssal Mixing

The Samoan Passage, 5500 m beneath the sea surface, is one of the "choke points" in the abyssal circulation. A veritable river of Antarctic Bottom water flows through it on its way into the North Pacific. As it enters the constriction, substantial turbulence, hydraulic processes and internal waves must occur, which modify the water. The overall goal is to understand these deep processes and the way they impact the flow, and to develop a strategy for eventually monitoring the flow through the Passage.

27 Sep 2011

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Environmental Sample Processor: A Sentry for Toxic Algal Blooms off the Washington Coast

An undersea robot that measures harmful algal species has been deployed by APL, UW, and NOAA researchers off the Washington coast near La Push. Algal bloom toxicity data are relayed to shore in near-real time and displayed through the NANOOS visualization system. The Environmental Sample Processor, or ESP, is taking measurements near the Juan de Fuca eddy, which is a known incubation site for toxic blooms that often travel toward coastal beaches, threatening fisheries and human health.

22 Jun 2016

ORCA Tracks the 'Blob'

A 'blob' of very warm surface water developed in the northeastern Pacific Ocean in 2014–2015 and its influence extended to the inland waters of Puget Sound throughout the summer of 2015. The unprecedented conditions were tracked by the ORCA (Oceanic Remote Chemical Analyzer) buoy network — an array of six heavily instrumented moored buoys in the Sound. ORCA data provided constant monitoring of evolving conditions and allowed scientists to warn of possible fish kill events in the oxygen-starved waters of Hood Canal well in advance.

The ORCA network is maintained by a partnership among APL-UW, the UW College of the Environment, and the UW School of Oceanography.

3 Nov 2015

ArcticMix 2015

APL-UW physical oceanographers John Mickett and Mike Gregg joined SIO colleagues during September 2015 in the Beaufort Sea aboard the R/V Sikuliaq to measure upper ocean mixing that billows heat from depth to the surface. These mixing dynamics may be an important factor in hastening sea ice melt during summer and delaying freeze-up in the fall.

14 Oct 2015

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2000-present and while at APL-UW

Field evaluation of a low-powered, profiling pCO2 system in coastal Washington

Chu, S.N., A.J. Sutton, S.R. Alin, N. Lawrence-Slavas, D. Atamanchuk, J.B. Mycket, J.A. Newton, C. Meinig, S. Stalin, and A. Tengberg, "Field evaluation of a low-powered, profiling pCO2 system in coastal Washington," Limnol. Oceanogr., 18, 280-296, doi:10.1002/lom3.10354, 2020.

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1 Jun 2020

Summertime upwelling of deep, corrosive waters on the continental shelf of the northern California Current System can exacerbate ocean acidification conditions, providing unsuitable environments for development of calcifying organisms and finfish that are important to the local economy. To better understand the carbonate system in this dynamic region, two recently developed technologies were combined with other sensors to obtain high‐frequency carbon profile data from July 2017 to September 2017. The compact, low‐power sensor package was composed of an optical sensor for partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2 optode, Aanderaa model #4797) integrated onto a wave‐powered PRofiling crAWLER (PRAWLER). The PRAWLER profiled from 3 to 80 m, stopping at fixed depths for varying lengths of time to allow for pCO2 equilibration. pCO2 derived from a regional empirical algorithm was used to correct optode drift using data at 80 m. Near‐surface adjusted optode pCO2 agreed within 6 ± 42 µ atm to surface pCO2 from a nearby Moored Autonomous pCO2 instrument. Throughout the water column, optode pCO2 compared to algorithm pCO2 within -28 ± 66 µ atm. Overall, optode uncertainty was 35–72 µ atm based on root‐mean‐square errors from all comparison data sets. Errors are attributed to optode calibration, adjustment, algorithm uncertainty, and environmental variability between optode and reference data. Improvements for optode performance within this profiling application include using more stable sensing foils, in situ calibration, and pumped flow over the sensing foil. Additionally, the study revealed undersaturated (corrosive) waters with respect to aragonite below 60 m throughout the deployment that reached up to 40 m by mid‐September.

Mixing rates and bottom drag in Bering Strait

Couto, N., M.H. Alford, J. MacKinnon, and J.B. Mickett, "Mixing rates and bottom drag in Bering Strait," J. Phys. Oceanogr., 50, 809-825, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-19-0154.1, 2020.

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1 Mar 2020

Three shipboard survey lines were occupied in Bering Strait during autumn of 2015, where high-resolution measurements of temperature, salinity, velocity, and turbulent dissipation rates were collected. These first-reported turbulence measurements in Bering Strait show that dissipation rates here are high even during calm winds. High turbulence in the strait has important implications for the modification of water properties during transit from the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Ocean. Measured diffusivities averaging 2 x 10-2 m2 s-1 are capable of causing watermass property changes of 0.1°C and 0.1 psu during the ~1–2-day transit through the narrowest part of the strait. We estimate friction velocity using both the dissipation and profile methods and find a bottom drag coefficient of 2.3 (±0.4) x 10-3. This result is smaller than values typically used to estimate bottom stress in the region and may improve predictions of transport variability through Bering Strait.

A spatial geography of abyssal turbulent mixing in the Samoan Passage

Carter, G.S., G. Voet, M.H. Alford, J.B. Girton, J.B. Miskent, J.M. Kaymak, L.J. Pratt, K.A. Pearson-Potts, J.M. Cusack, and S. Tan, "A spatial geography of abyssal turbulent mixing in the Samoan Passage," Oceanography, 32, 194-203, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2019.425, 2019.

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1 Dec 2019

High levels of turbulent mixing have long been suspected in the Samoan Passage, an important topographic constriction in the deep limb of the Pacific Meridional Overturning Circulation. Along the length of the passage, observations undertaken in 2012 and 2014 showed the bottom water warmed by ~55 millidegrees Celsius and decreased in density by 0.01 kg m-3. Spatial analysis of this first-ever microstructure survey conducted in the Samoan Passage confirmed there are multiple hotspots of elevated abyssal mixing. This mixing was not just confined to the four main sills — even between sills, the nature of the mixing processes appeared to differ: for example, one sill is clearly a classical hydraulically controlled overflow, whereas another is consistent with mode-2 hydraulic control. When microstructure casts were averaged into 0.1°C conservative temperature classes, the largest dissipation rates and diapycnal diffusivity values (>10-7 W kg-1 and 10-2 m2 s-1, respectively) occurred immediately downstream of the northern sill in the eastern and deepest channel. Although topographic blocking is the primary reason that no water colder than Θ = 0.7°C is found in the western channel, intensive mixing at the entrance sills appeared to be responsible for eroding an approximately 100 m thick layer of Θ < 0.7°C water. Three examples highlighting weak temporal variability, and hence suggesting that the observed spatial patterns are robust, are presented. The spatial variability in mixing over short lateral scales suggests that any simple parameterization of mixing within the Samoan Passage may not be applicable.

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In The News

Ocean trash: What you need to know

KCTS9/EarthFix , Ken Christensen

Ocean currents carry man-made debris to remote corners of the planet—even to places mostly untouched by people. And that makes it difficult to clean up, as APL-UW's Senior Oceanographer John Mickett demonstrates during his recent sojourn to Vancouver Island, B.C. to recover a wayward research buoy.

11 Dec 2017

UW, NOAA deploy ocean robot to monitor harmful algal blooms off Washington coast

UW News and Information, Hannah Hickey

John Mickett, an oceanographer at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory, led the deployment of the new instrument with Stephanie Moore, a scientist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, as part of a larger collaborative project.

25 May 2016

Buoy deployed in Bellingham Bay to chart health of Puget Sound

KING 5 News, Alison Morrow

Oceanographers deployed a buoy in Bellingham Bay on Thursday that will chart the health of Puget Sound. It joins a half-dozen other buoys, but this is the only one in the north Puget Sound. It is equipped with several pieces of advanced technology that will monitor everything from salinity, temperature and weather changes.

11 Feb 2016

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Real-time Ocean Mooring for the Environmental Sample Processor

Record of Invention Number: 48554

John Mickett, Nick Michel-Hart


20 Feb 2019

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