Cesar Rocha


Since childhood, Cesar Rocha from São Paulo has had two great passions: mathematics and the sea. During my routine summer holidays on the north coast of São Paulo, he spent hours swimming and surfing, taking advantage of the calm moments to think about mathematical equations. With a degree and master’s degree in oceanography from the University of São Paulo, Rocha moved to the United States to obtain a doctorate in physical oceanography from the University of California. Still in the USA, he did postdoctoral work at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts and was a professor at the University of Connecticut.

Today, back at USP, the oceanographer confesses that he swapped his board for another vehicle to let his thoughts full of equations flow: the bicycle. When he’s not teaching, researching, cycling or playing guitar for his son, Cesar always reads the New Yorker or Piauí magazine. His project is an investigation into the currents and waves of the deepest regions of the ocean. The AMOC, known in Portuguese as the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, is a gigantic current in the lower ocean layers that significantly impacts the planet’s temperature and climate. Cesar’s study attempts to understand this phenomenon better and thus gain insights into the oceans to prepare for global warming.


Does small-scale turbulence in the abyssal ocean force climate variability?
Science / Geosciences

Just as waves on the sea’s surface eventually break on the beach, there are waves in the ocean’s interior, between layers of different densities. These internal waves eventually also break, causing turbulence and mixing the different water layers. This project combines fluid dynamics theory (mathematical models), observations collected in the South Atlantic and computational simulations to test the hypothesis that variations in turbulent mixing due to internal wave breaking in the abyssal ocean control the variability of the lower AMOC cell, the Atlantic Meridional Circulation Cell. AMOC is an interhemispheric ocean circulation pattern that transports heat equivalent to 10,000 times the electricity production generated by the binational Itaipu hydroelectric plant and a volume of water equivalent to 100 times the flow of the Amazon River. AMOC variations are a cause and consequence of planetary climate variability. Therefore, the understanding that this project seeks is crucial to improving predictions of Earth’s climate under the effects of global warming.

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