Physical Oceanography

The Physical Oceanography program is interested in receiving research planning letters on topics related to our primary focus areas of mesoscale and sub-mesoscale ocean processes, air-sea interaction, new ocean observing technologies and the education of the next generation of scientists.

Areas of interest include:

  • Sub-mesoscale variability associated with fronts, jets and eddies; internal tides, turbulence and mixing; influence of regional variability on meso- and sub-mesoscale processes, sea strait dynamics, and the predictability of these processes
  • Western boundary current forcing and variability on short time scales
  • The processes that govern ocean interior mixing and air-sea interaction, in particular those that govern, surface fluxes and turbulence
  • Novel uses of existing or emerging remote, autonomous or in-situ instruments to understand the ocean on the scales at which the Navy operates; use of such data to improve ocean state predictions

Research Concentration Areas

The Physical Oceanography program priorities are represented by the ongoing or upcoming Departmental Research Initiatives (DRIs). These topics form the core of the program focus and investment. Once a DRI has begun, it is rare to encourage additional proposals in those areas.

The program strongly encourages hypothesis-based research and often uses the latest parameterizations and model formulations to help frame this hypothesis. We are also interested in advancing autonomous methods of ocean sampling.

The program fully embraces the Navy’s commitment to fostering science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, and will give highest priority to existing early student support commitments and will continue this as a focus of the core physical oceanography program. The Early Student Support Program directly supports student involvement in Physical Oceanography program-funded efforts. We select only a few ESS new starts each year.

Research Challenges and Opportunities

While scientific quality is always the most important factor of the review process, an additional significant criterion is the priority of the research topic, which is based on a number of factors including the current funding profile of the overall Arctic program. If we have funded or are currently funding a number of significant efforts in a particular research area, the addition of more work on that topic may be of lower priority than supporting new research efforts on a topic in which we have few funded projects. Thus, prospective investigators are encouraged to review the summaries of completed and current Departmental Research Initiatives (DRIs):

Northern Ocean Rapid Surface Evolution, FY21-FY24

Island Arc Turbulent Eddy Regional Exchange, FY21-FY25

Planning letters for research to be supported by the 322PO core program beginning in FY21 should be prepared according to these guidelines and submitted no later than October 15, 2020. The purpose of planning letters is to allow prospective investigators to submit a brief description of their scientific ideas so that we may evaluate them and offer programmatic and technical feedback before time is invested in writing a full proposal. This allows us to give you some indication of the likely success of a full proposal based on program interests and priorities. It is anticipated that full proposals would be invited in late October 2020 and proposals would be submitted by the end of December 2021. Award recommendations are likely to be made before late January 2021.

Program Contact Information

Name: Dr. Scott Harper

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 322

Email for Questions:

Name: Dr. Louis St Laurent

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 322

Email for Questions:

How to Submit

For detailed application and submission information for this research topic, please see our Funding Opportunities page and refer to broad agency announcement (BAA) No. N00014-20-S-B001.

  • Contracts: All white papers and full proposals for contracts must be submitted through FedConnect; instructions are included in the BAA.
  • Grants: All white papers for grants must be submitted through FedConnect, and full proposals for grants must be submitted through; instructions are included in the BAA.

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