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Hurricanes and Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean Systems

Benjamin Barr

Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
University of Washington, Seattle
Professional Engineer (P.E.) - Licensed in Texas


My research interests are air-sea exchange in high-wind environments, air-sea interface physics, high-resolution coupled atmosphere-wave-ocean modeling of tropical cyclones, and near-surface air-sea observations in high winds.

About me

I grew up in Austin, Texas and received my B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. While at UT, I became fascinated with thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat and mass transfer, working on topics such as ablative heat shields for spacecraft atmospheric reentry and firebrand breakage and transport in wildland fires. After graduating from UT, I worked for five years at Stress Engineering Services (SES) in Houston, Texas performing structural, dynamic, and thermal/fluid analysis for a variety of oil and gas applications. While working at SES on the analysis team for the top-tensioned production/drilling risers for Shell's Malikai tension leg platform in Malaysia, I became interested in the storms and marine environments that drive the design of floating offshore structures. I realized that my background in thermal/fluid systems could be applied to the study of these environments, and I decided to return to school to become an atmospheric scientist. Now at the University of Washington, I apply my engineering experience to the study of physics at the air-sea interface in high winds, focusing on understanding how small-scale thermal and fluid processes affect overall rates of energy and moisture transfer in atmospheric systems.