Campus Map

Dick Moritz

Affiliate - Senior Principal Oceanographer




Richard Moritz's primary areas of expertise are the physics of climate, and the interactions among ocean, sea ice, and atmosphere. He is actively engaged in climate modeling research, including the development and application of the Community Climate System Model at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Dr. Moritz joined the Polar Science Center at APL-UW in 1980 and since 1999 has served as its chair. He earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in geography, as well as M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in geology and geophysics, both from Yale University.

Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center


B.A. Geography, University of Colorado, 1974

M.A. Geography & Climatology, University of Colorado, 1978

M.S./M.Ph. Geology & Geophysics, Yale University, 1979

Ph.D. Geology & Geophysics, Yale University, 1988


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Multiyear volume, liquid freshwater, and sea ice transports through Davis Strait, 2004–10

Curry, B., C.M. Lee, B. Petrie, R.E. Moritz, and R. Kwok, "Multiyear volume, liquid freshwater, and sea ice transports through Davis Strait, 2004–10," J. Phys. Oceanogr., 44, 1244-1266, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-13-0177.1, 2014.

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1 Apr 2014

Davis Strait is a primary gateway for freshwater exchange between the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans including freshwater contributions from west Greenland and Canadian Arctic Archipelago glacial melt. Data from six years (2004–10) of continuous measurements collected by a full-strait moored array and concurrent high-resolution Seaglider surveys are used to estimate volume and liquid freshwater transports through Davis Strait, with respective annual averages of –1.6 ± 0.5 Sverdrups (Sv; 1 Sv = 106 m3 s-1) and –93 ± 6 mSv (negative sign indicates southward transport). Sea ice export contributes an additional –10 ± 1 mSv of freshwater transport, estimated using satellite ice area transport and moored upward-looking sonar ice thickness measurements. Interannual and annual variability of the net transports are large, with average annual volume and liquid freshwater transport standard deviations of 0.7 Sv and 17 mSv and with interannual standard deviations of 0.3 Sv and 15 mSv. Moreover, there are no clear trends in the net transports over the 6-yr period. However, salinity in the upper 250 m between Baffin Island and midstrait decreases starting in September 2009 and remains below average through August 2010, but appears to return to normal by the end of 2010. This freshening event, likely caused by changes in arctic freshwater storage, is not apparent in the liquid freshwater transport time series due to a reduction in southward volume transport in 2009–10. Reanalysis of Davis Strait mooring data from the period 1987–90, compared to the 2004–10 measurements, reveals less arctic outflow and warmer, more saline North Atlantic inflow during the most recent period.

Retrieving sea-ice thickness from ULS echoes: Methods and data analysis

Moritz, R., and A. Ivakin, "Retrieving sea-ice thickness from ULS echoes: Methods and data analysis," Proceedings, 11th European Conference on Underwater Acoustics, 2-6 July, Edinburgh, 1535-1542 (Institute of Acoustics, 2012).

2 Jul 2012

Sea ice response to atmospheric and oceanic forcing in the Bering Sea

Zhang, J., R. Woodgate, and R. Moritz, "Sea ice response to atmospheric and oceanic forcing in the Bering Sea," J. Phys. Oceanogr., 40, 1729-1747, doi:10.1175/2010JPO4323.1, 2010.

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1 Aug 2010

A coupled sea ice–ocean model is developed to quantify the sea ice response to changes in atmospheric and oceanic forcing in the Bering Sea over the period 1970–2008. The model captures much of the observed spatiotemporal variability of sea ice and sea surface temperature (SST) and the basic features of the upper-ocean circulation in the Bering Sea. Model results suggest that tides affect the spatial redistribution of ice mass by up to 0.1 m or 15% in the central-eastern Bering Sea by modifying ice motion and deformation and ocean flows.

The considerable interannual variability in the pattern and strength of winter northeasterly winds leads to southwestward ice mass advection during January–May, ranging from 0.9 x 1012 m3 in 1996 to 1.8 x 1012 m3 in 1976 and averaging 1.4 x 1012 m3, which is almost twice the January–May mean total ice volume in the Bering Sea. The large-scale southward ice mass advection is constrained by warm surface waters in the south that melt 1.5 x 1012 m3 of ice in mainly the ice-edge areas during January–May, with substantial interannual variability ranging from 0.94 x 1012 m3 in 1996 to 2.0 x 1012 m3 in 1976. Ice mass advection processes also enhance thermodynamic ice growth in the northern Bering Sea by increasing areas of open water and thin ice. Ice growth during January–May is 0.90 x 1012 m3 in 1996 and 2.1 x 1012 m3 in 1976, averaging 1.3 x 1012 m3 over 1970–2008. Thus, the substantial interannual variability of the Bering Sea ice cover is dominated by changes in the wind-driven ice mass advection and the ocean thermal front at the ice edge.

The observed ecological regime shifts in the Bering Sea occurred with significant changes in sea ice, surface air temperature, and SST, which in turn are correlated with the Pacific decadal oscillation over 1970–2008 but not with other climate indices: Arctic Oscillation, North Pacific index, and El Nino–Southern Oscillation. This indicates that the PDO index may most effectively explain the regime shifts in the Bering Sea.

More Publications

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