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Alex de Klerk

Field Engineer II






B.S. Materials Science and Engineering, University of Washington, 2010


Mapping Underwater Turbulence with Sound

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9 Apr 2018

To dock at a terminal, large Washington State ferries use their powerful engines to brake, generating a lot of turbulence. Doppler sonar instruments are capturing an accurate picture of the turbulence field during docking procedures and how it affects terminal structures and the seabed. This research is a collaborative effort between APL-UW and the UW College of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Ferry-Based Monitoring of Puget Sound Currents

Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers are installed on two Washington State Department of Transportation ferries to measure current velocities in a continuous transect along their routes. WSDOT ferries occupy strategic cross-sections where circulation and exchange of Puget Sound and Pacific Ocean waters occurs. A long and continuous time series will provide unprecedented measurements of water mass movement and transport between the basins.

9 May 2014

Turbulence Generated by Tides in the Canal de Chacao, Chile

At a proposed tidal energy conversion site in southern Chile, APL-UW researchers are measuring the magnitude and scales of turbulence, both to aid in the design of turbines for the site and to understand the fundamental dynamics of flows through the channel.

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7 Mar 2013

Principal Investigator Jim Thomson chronicled all phases of the Chilean experiment through posts to the New York Times 'Scientist at Work' blog.

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2000-present and while at APL-UW

A new version of the SWIFT platform for waves, currents, and turbulence in the ocean surface layer

Thomson, J., M. Moulton, A. de Klerk, J. Talbert, M. Guerra, S. Kastner, M. Smith, M. Schwendeman, S. Zippel, and S. Nylund, "A new version of the SWIFT platform for waves, currents, and turbulence in the ocean surface layer," Proc., IEEE/OES 12th Currents, Waves, Turbulence Measurement and Applications Workshop, 10-13 March, San Diego, CA (IEEE, 2019).

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10 Mar 2019

The Surface Wave Instrument Float with Tracking (SWIFT) is a freely drifting platform for measurements of waves, currents, and turbulence in the ocean surface layer. This platform
has been used globally to study wave breaking, wave-current interactions, and waves in ice. A new version (v4) of the buoy has recently been developed and demonstrated in the Office of
Naval Research “Langmuir Circulations” field campaign along the California coast (2017). The new version is built around a 5-beam Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (Nortek Signature 1000) with a multi-pulse coherent mode for high-resolution turbulence measurements. The new Doppler profiler enables estimates of the turbulent dissipation rate down to 3.5 m below waves, compared with 0.5 m in the previous version, and can measure a much larger range of turbulence levels than the previous version. The new version also uses a broadband Doppler mode to profile the mean currents down to 20 m. Mean Eulerian velocity profiles are estimated from the wave-averaged profiler velocities by applying a wave-following bias correction that scales with the Stokes drift and has twice the vertical decay scale. Finally, the new version supports real-time telemetry of raw sea surface elevations for reconstruction of individual waves by processing a coherent array of multiple SWIFTs, with applications for short-range wave-by-wave forecasting. These combined improvements to the platform are intended to advance understanding of wave processes and applications in the ocean surface layer.

Biofouling effects on the response of a wave measurement buoy in deep water

Thomson, J., J. Talbert, A. de Klerk, A. Brown, M. Schwendeman, J. Goldsmith, J. Thomas, C. Olfe, G. Cameron, and C. Meinig, "Biofouling effects on the response of a wave measurement buoy in deep water," J. Atmos. Ocean. Technol., 32, 1281-1286, doi:10.1175/JTECH-D-15-0029.1, 2015.

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1 Jun 2015

The effects of biofouling on a wave measurement buoy are examined using concurrent data collected with two Datawell Waveriders at Ocean Station P: one heavily biofouled at the end of a 26-month deployment, the other newly deployed and clean. The effects are limited to the high-frequency response of the buoy and are correctly diagnosed with the spectral "check factors" that compare horizontal and vertical displacements. A simple prediction for the progressive change in frequency response during biofouling reproduces the check factors over time. The bulk statistical parameters of significant wave height, peak period, average period, and peak direction are only slightly affected by the biofouling because the contaminated frequencies have very low energy throughout the comparison dataset.

Turbulence measurements from moving platforms

Thomson, J., J. Talbert, A. de Klerk, S. Zippel, M. Guerra, and L. Kilcher, "Turbulence measurements from moving platforms," Proc. 11th IEEE/OES Current, Waves and Turbulence Measurement (CWTM) Workshop, 2-6 March, St. Petersburg, FL, doi:10.1109/CWTM.2015.7098107 (IEEE, 2015).

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2 Mar 2015

Two recent methods for making high-fidelity turbulence measurements from moving platforms are described and demonstrated. The first is a method for measuring profiles of near-surface turbulence from a wave-following 'SWIFT' buoy. The second is a method for measuring time series of turbulence from a submerged compliant mooring. Both approaches use coherent Doppler instruments and inertial motion units (IMUs). In the buoy method, wave motions (e.g., pitch, roll, and heave) are quantified via GPS and IMU measurements. These wave motions are not present in the turbulence observations, because buoy follows the wave orbital motion, and thus the turbulent velocities are processed in the wave-following reference frame. In the mooring method, IMU measurements track the mooring motions (e.g., strum and kiting) and these motions are removed in post-processing to obtain turbulent velocities in the fixed earth reference frame. These approaches successfully quantify turbulence in regions previously unavailable or limited by the noise and spatial aliasing of sampling from bottom-mounted platforms.

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Record of Invention Number: 48200

Jim Thomson, Alex de Klerk, Joe Talbert


6 Nov 2017

SWIFT: Surface Wave Instrument Float with Tracking

Record of Invention Number: 46566

Jim Thomson, Alex De Klerk, Joe Talbert


24 Jun 2013

Heave Place Mooring for Wave Energy Conversion (WEC) via Tension Changes

Record of Invention Number: 46558

Jim Thomson, Alex De Klerk, Joe Talbert


19 Jun 2013

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