Text by Peter Dennert
During the 4th to 10th June 2022 the 2nd Gordon Research Conference for Ocean Mixing was held at the College of Mount Holyoke located in South Hadley, Massachusetts. The conference was attended by 4 PhD students (Nicola Dettling T3, Ole Pinner T3, Pablo Saez W6, Peter Dennert W2) of the TRR as well as Friederike Pollmann (young Pl in W4) as an invited speaker. The accompanying Gordon Research Seminar(GRS) for early career scientist was attended by three of the PhD students.
The conference took place over five days while the seminar occupied the weekend before the conference. During the conference a wide range of topics were covered, showing the diverse regions and mechanisms which are in the focus of current research in ocean mixing. Topics included ocean mixing in climate science, polar oceans ( sea ice and ice shelfs interactions), the interior (internal wave dynamics), the surface (influence on biogeochemistry), and at the bottom (canyons and lee waves). The conference was attended by close to 200 scientist, 80 of whom visited the seminar as well. Each day consisted of two block of talks and one poster sessions. Sessions started at 9am in the morning and ended at 9:30pm. Most people took the opportunity to meet after the last sessions to further discuss the posters with accompanying beverages. A long break at lunch hours was therefore appreciated, to stay focused throughout the day. The break was used to explore to nicely situated campus and its surrounding or get some time to work, rest, or workout.
On Sunday June 5th the conference was started by a welcome of conference chairs Kurt Polzin and Jonathan Nash. The evening session that day was occupied by a talk and podium discussion on the impact of ocean mixing research on the climate system. The topic was already covered in the seminar and stayed a discussion topic for the following days. Tuesday was the main day for polar researchers with both sessions being covered by antarctic and arctic research questions. During the lunch break a hourlong seminar on inclusive mentoring was held. The seminar fell in line with the focus on mentoring. Attendees could sing up as mentors, mentees, or both before the conference started. Especially early career scientist took the opportunity to gather advice or simply build their network. On Tuesday the first session talked about internal waves, one of the talks was held by Friederike Pollmann. The talk focused on the Idemix model, its recent improvements, and possible benefits it could bring to other models. The later part of the day was then occupied by impacts of ocean mixing on biogeochemical processes. The fourth day of the conference started with submesoscale processes and shifted later into the topic of mixing in global ocean models. Yueng Lens and Leif Thomas were elected as new conference vice chairs on this day and will organize the 2026 ocean mixing GRC. On the last day a focus was put on mixing at the ocean bottom and how to reduce uncertainties in mixing.
The GRS was only attended by early career scientist (ECR). All talks and posters where given and presented by ECRs with the exception of the keynote speaker Angelique Melet. In the keynote talk the focus was not purely set on science with half of the talk being spent by Angelique explaining her career path. She talked about challenges and opportunities on her way to her current position at Mercator Ocean. The goal was to give ERCs an outlook on future careers in the scientific community and outside of it. The main subject of the GRS was the impact of ocean mixing on the climate. Even though ocean mixing is a specialized field a focus was set on the impacts of ocean mixing on the global climate. This sparked a lot of discussion regarding climate change and possible ways to act on during the whole conference emphasizing the role climate scientist play in our current society. One example was given by the talk of Henri Drake which addressed problem in scientific communication. He showed that only very basic findings of our research are taken into account by politicians and economists. To Giving ECRs the possibility to act as speakers, discussion leaders and to present their research in a smaller group lead to open and encouraging atmosphere not only during the seminar but the whole conference.
Attending the first in person conference for us PhD students showed how important it is to share your thoughts and ideas in person and to be exposed to the expertise of many researchers in a similar field. Apart from learning about different results, methods or viewpoints you get to build your network and learn how to present your research in an interesting and meaningful way. The Gordon Research Conference and especially the Seminar allowed for a great start into the in person scientific community, due to the relatively low amount of participants. For the next conference we would hope to see an even more diverse group of attendees and speakers, with less focus on the US-American research. Hopefully we will see even more contributions from the TRR in the future.