Rolf Sonnerup

Rolf with fishResearch Scientist

Rolf Sonnerup got his PhD in Chemical Oceanography from the University of Washington in 1999 and began his JISAO career as a postdoc for Dr. John Bullister at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL).

Rolf got into chemical oceanography because he wanted to study the geochemistry of processes occurring on decadal timescales. His research focuses on the ocean's carbon cycle and its response to climate change. Rolf specializes in the use of trace gas measurements to determine upper ocean circulation rates, thus providing estimates of the rate at which the ocean breathes atmospheric gases. He uses oceanic measurements of chemical distributions as tracers and time-integrators of physical, biological, and chemical processes. The research usually involves using anthropogenic trace gases as "clocks" for determining rates of upper ocean physical circulation and mixing, biological production, and gas and nutrient cycling.

The work involves measuring large-scale chemical distributions, and building statistical and computer models to help understand controls on those distributions. The models range in complexity from very simple to prognostic 3-D general circulation models with dissolved gases and biological cycles included. Sonnerup has applied these tools in the ocean to determine the fate and distribution of anthropogenic CO2, to determine biological production rates, to constrain upper ocean circulation and mixing rates and decadal circulation changes.

Rolf spends every July in Alaska running his family's salmon fishing business with his wife and two young boys. Sonnerup has recently been recruited to the JISAO cross country ski team, headed up by Amy Snover, and generously sponsored by Mr. Tom Ackerman. Sonnerup's ultimate goal while at JISAO is to consistently 'finish in the same day' as Jeremy Littell in the Wednesday night time trials.