Assistant Professor Carolina Dufour

Physical Oceanography

Position: Assistant Professor
Office: Burnside Hall 948
Tel.: (514) 398-8239
carolina.dufour [at] mcgill.ca (E-mail)

Research interests

We are interested in identifying and quantifying the physical processes that drive the response of polar oceans to climate change.

Polar oceans play a crucial role in the climate system by taking up and redistributing heat and carbon at global scale, thus greatly reducing the pace of climate warming. Among all the regions of the ocean, the Southern Ocean and North Atlantic are the largest anthropogenic carbon sinks. In addition, the Southern Ocean is thought to be the largest sink for excess heat from the atmosphere in the global ocean. Over recent decades, polar oceans have experienced significant changes, including increases in air temperature, glacial melt, and winds, that are expected to further intensify over the 21st century. These changes have the potential to greatly impact the ability of polar oceans to continue taking up large amounts of heat and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with important implications for climate warming.

Our current research activities focus on addressing the following questions:

1. How are excess heat and anthropogenic carbon taken up in polar ocean regions, and will these sinks persist in the future? 

2. How is heat transported towards high-latitudes and how does that affect sea ice, ice-shelf melting and sea level?

3. What drives the current sea ice variability and its response to climate change, and what impact will this response have on the regional and global climate?

To investigate these questions, we mainly use realistic models of the ocean-sea ice system or of the whole climate system. Though mainly focused on physical oceanography, our research  has close connection with marine biogeochemistry (carbon cycle) and the cryosphere (sea ice and ice-shelves). 


Currently teaching

ATOC 182 (Fall 2018)

ATOC 568 (Winter 2019)


Some recent publications 

  • Goddard, P., C. O. Dufour, J. Yin, S. M. Griffies, and M. Winton (2017): CO2-induced ocean warming around the Antarctic ice sheet in an eddying global climate model. Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans, 122, 8079-8101.
  • Kamenkovich, I., A. Haza, A. R. Gray, C. O. Dufour, Z. Garraffo (2017): Observing System Simulation Experiments for an array of autonomous biogeochemical profiling floats in the Southern Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans. 122.
  • Dufour, C. O., A. K. Morrison, S. M. Griffies, I. Frenger, H. Zanowski, and M. Winton (2017): Preconditioning of the Weddell Sea polynya by the ocean mesoscale and dense water overflows. Journal of Climate, 30, 7719-7737.
  • Tamsitt, V., H. Drake , A. K. Morrison , L. D. Talley , C. O. Dufour , A. R. Gray , S. M. Griffies , M. R. Mazloff , J. L. Sarmiento , J. Wang , W. Weijer (2017): Spiraling up: pathways of global deep waters to the surface of the Southern Ocean. Nature Communications, 8, 172.
For a complete list of publications for all our faculty, please click here.