Portrait of myself, Henri Drake

This site is being phased out in favor of my new UC Irvine group site, which it now redirects to.

Upcoming PhD and postdoc opportunities at UC Irvine!

In July 2023, I will be moving to the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Department of Earth System Science (ESS) to start an Ocean and Climate Dynamics research group. Our group will advance geophysical theories of the deep ocean circulation and apply these to improve state-of-the-art computational models of Earth system change and of ocean-based climate solutions. If you are interested in joining the group as a postdoc or a fully-funded PhD student, please reach out via email with a CV and a brief description of your research interests/experience.

Given the theoretical and computational nature of our research, the ideal student would have a strong mathematical background (e.g. high grades in multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations) and have excelled in a relevant quantitative major (e.g. physics, applied math, mechanical engineering, physical oceanography, or atmospheric science). Prior research experience and/or coursework in scientific computing, partial differential equations, or fluid mechanics are a plus, but not strictly required. Passionate students who do not fit this description—but are otherwise exceptional—are still encouraged to apply; however, they must make a clear and convincing for how they would benefit from joining the group—and what new perspective(s) they would bring to it. See UCI's general requirements and ESS's answers to Frequency Asked Questions for more information about the PhD application and admissions process.

About me

I am a theoretical physical oceanographer who uses mathematical and computational models to understand the role of the turbulent ocean in our changing climate. I am currently a NOAA Climate & Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow hosted by Dr. Sonya Legg at Princeton University and NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. I received my Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography and Climate Physics from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in 2021, working with Prof. Raffaele Ferrari. My doctoral dissertation demonstrated that the global ocean overturning circulation is controlled by the turbulent dynamics of thin bottom boundary layers in regions where the seafloor is rough. Neither the instabilities of these flows nor their interactions with small-scale topographic roughness are presently represented within global climate models; my postdoctoral work thus aims to develop parameterizations for these processes and to ultimately determine their roles in the Earth System.

The topics I am actively researching are:

  1. turbulent transport of tracers in the ocean,
  2. internal waves and near-boundary mixing,
  3. flow-topography interactions,
  4. geophysical constraints on ocean climate solutions,
  5. meridional overturning circulation dynamics, and
  6. the role of these processes in centennial- and millenial-scale climate change.
If you share any of the above interests and/or would like to collaborate, please get in touch!

More generally, I am fascinated by the coupled dynamics of the Earth System, the history of this science, and its role in society. I am passionate about making scientific institutions more diverse and inclusive, so that all scientists feel welcome, supported, and valued. I also enjoy developing open-source software, such as my new package ClimateMARGO.jl, which is an extremely simple climate-economic model for quantitatively exploring different climate policy options in teaching, outreach, and research (try it yourself with our online web-app).

Google scholar My CV (resume)

A movie showing how a turbulent field of eddies stirs an blob of purple tracer around a narrow and hilly deep ocean canyon The movie shows that the blob of tracer, initially just a few km in diameter, gets diffused across an area of about 60km by 60km over the course of 200 days.
The turbulent three-dimensional transport of a spherical blob of tracer in a deep ocean canyon. This simulation mimics a real ocean expedition in which 100 kg of Sulfur Hexafluoride was injected 4000 meters below the ocean surface in the Brazil Basin and was traced out over the course of several years [Source: Drake et al., submitted]


08/20/2022 — I recently accepted a position as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the University of California, Irvine's department of Earth System Science. I am extremely excited to be returning to my home state to serve our excellent public university system. The Earth System Science department—the first of its kind in the U.S.—has a long history of pushing boundaries with interdisciplinary Earth system science research and making paradigm-shifting discoveries, and it is an honor to be joining the faculty there. I look forward to broadening my research portfolio by exploring the implications of fundamental ocean dynamics on coupled Earth system dynamics, projections of Earth system change, and on the research and development of sustainable ocean-based climate solutions.

02/10/2022 — Check out my new Youtube channel, where I'll be posting all of recorded talks, visualizations, and outreach activities. The first post is my 15-minute talk for Ocean Sciences 2022.

02/28/2022 — Come drop by my talk on diapycnal motion, diffusion, and shear dispersion of tracers in the ocean at the 2022 Ocean Sciences Meeting!

01/07/2022 — The last two chapters of my PhD thesis, recently submitted to the Journal of Physical Oceanography, are now posted as companion preprints [1,2] on EarthArxiv.

12/13/2021 — Our research on the upwelling spiral in the Southern Ocean was featured in a New York Times multi-media article titled Rising From the Antarctic, a Climate Alarm.

10/16/2021 — My collaborator Riley X. Brady just published paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters which confirms the Southern Ocean upwelling hotspots identified by my previous work and shows that they are bringing up old, carbon-rich deep waters with high outgassing potential. This has implications for observational campaigns to close the oceanic carbon budget (air-sea fluxes in the Southern Ocean are both enourmous and notoriously difficult to measure due to harsh conditions and sea ice cover) and for the permanence of Oceanic methods for Carbon Dioxide Removal.

10/01/2021 — I am currently out at sea on the RRS Discovery, searching for a purposefully released tracer that will provide valuable data for testing the theoretical predictions in my PhD dissertation. Check out Marie-Jose Messias and Bethan Wynne-Cattanach's presentations at the upcoming 2022 Ocean Sciences Meeting for the results!

09/01/2021 — I am now settled in to my new place in Princeton, NJ– enjoyed getting to know the Princeton Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences community at the annual retreat this past week. Many news faces but also some old friends and collaborators!

08/02/2021 — I successfully defended and submitted my Ph.D. from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography! Now for a long-awaited vacation before a fresh start at Princeton/GFDL in a few weeks!

05/04/2021 — I was awarded a NOAA Climate & Global Change Postdoctoral fellowship to support my research on "Parameterization of Bottom Mixed Layer Eddies and Their Impact on Climate" with Dr. Sonya Legg at Princeton University. I am looking forward to starting at Princeton/GFDL in September 2021!

08/23/2020 — The first chapter of my PhD dissertation, a theoretical study of the deep ocean circulation, is now published in the Journal of Physical Oceanography!

12/04/2020 — Our new paper evaluating historical climate model projections of global warming is now published in Geophysical Research Letters. See coverage by the Associated Press (via The New York Times), Science Magazine, Vox, and more.

09/20/2020 — My colleagues and I wrote an opinion piece "Young climate scientists speak out" about why we, as young climate scientists, participated in the Boston Youth Climate Strike (09/20/2019) for climate action.

06/08/2019 — My opinion piece "Eight ways to support women in science" was published in EOS.

12/08/2018 — I passed my thesis proposal and am now a fully-fledge PhD candidate working on their thesis!

09/05/2018 — I started a science communication project where I livestream Fortnite, a popular video game, with other climate scientists. We're on Youtube and Twitch. Gizmodo and Wired covered the project. CBC Radio also interviewed me for a story.

08/30/2018 — I wrote a blog post about Male Allyship of Women in Science for the Society for Women in Marine Science. There is a lot of work that needs to be done for diversity and inclusion in science.

06/20/2018 — I passed the written exam and oral exam components of my PhD Qualifying Exam! Onwards to PhD candidacy!

02/02/2018 — My first first-author paper, on Lagrangian upwelling timescales in the Southern Ocean, was just published in Geophysical Research Letters!

12/12/2017 — Our new review paper on Lagrangian ocean analysis just came out in Ocean Modelling.

11/15/2017 — I was interviewed by Nature editor Michael White's Forecast, a podcast about climate science and climate scientists, as part of outreach for the 2017 Graduate Climate Conference.

09/29/2017 — My first paper, led by phenomenal Scripps Insitution of Oceanography graduate student Veronica Tamsitt was published in Nature Communications. The work is summarized at Phys.org.

06/09/2017 — I was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship by the National Science Foundation to study the circulation of the deep ocean for the next three years. Haverford College article.

02/18/2017 — Welcome to my new website!