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Associate Professor

Ph.D., 1990, University of Wales

Structure and dynamics of shelf-seas and remote sensing oceanography.



Research Interests

I am a marine physicist. I study ocean processes that affect ocean circulation, density distribution, and climate change and variability. My current research interests focus on the structure and dynamics of the shelf-seas, remote sensing oceanography, and biological-physical interactions, which affect offshore wind energy production, affect larval transport and tropical diseases epidemiology. I design field experiments to observe these processes by incorporating modern technology, with a particular emphasis on the acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP), coastal ocean RADAR, GPS-tracked Lagrangian drifters, ocean gliders and satellites.

The study of hypoxia in Long Island Sound is very important to me. My students and I have demonstrated that spring total chlorophyll, maximum spring freshwater discharge into the sound, spring total nitrogen, and mean summer wind are good predictors of summer hypoxic water volume. They contribute to more than 81% of the volume variability. We also demonstrated that onset of hypoxia’s late summer relaxation is sensitive to factors beyond wind mixing alone. Whereas wind mixing contributes at most 30% to the late summer bottom water dissolved oxygen variability, the penalty of not including the bacterial dynamics in the model is an over-prediction of bottom dissolved oxygen by as much as 700%.

My lab is currently working on three projects. In the first one we are machine learning techniques to understand factors that control the interannual and long-term variability of surfclam recruitment. The study also seeks to determine the climate change effects on the surf clam population in state waters on the south shore of Long Island.  The second project, ‘Integrating hydro-climate science into policy decisions for climate-resilient infrastructure and livelihoods in East Africa’ (HyCRISTAL), is working with stakeholders in East African to quantify climate prediction uncertainty from natural variability, uncertainty from climate forcings including those previously unassessed, and uncertainty in response to these forcings. HyCRISTAL is using the information to understand trends, when climate-change signals will emerge and provide a process-based expert judgement on projections to inform climate-smart policy decision making. For more information about the project read here. The third project is part of an international consortium of seven universities and research organizations in the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil and the Cote d’Ivoire. The project’s goal is to examine how climate change will impact schistosomiasis infections, also known as “snail fever,” a debilitating infection that affects some 200 million people worldwide. We will produce statistically and dynamically downscaled CMIP6 projections of temperatures and precipitation amounts in climate change scenarios which will be used in epidemiological models.

Selected Publications

Brunner, K. and Lwiza, K. M. M. Evidence of coastal trapped wave scattering using high-frequency radar data in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, Ocean Sci. Discuss.,, in review, 2020.

Brunner, K., Lwiza, K.M.M. 2020. Tidal velocities on the Mid-Atlantic Bight continental shelf using high-frequency radar. J Oceanogr.

Brunner, K. and Lwiza, K.M., 2019, March. The impact of storm-induced coastal trapped waves on the transport of marine debris using high-frequency radar data. In 2019 IEEE/OES Twelfth Current, Waves and Turbulence Measurement (CWTM) (pp. 1-5). IEEE.

Brunner, K., Rivas, D. and Lwiza, K.M. 2019. Application of classical coastal trapped wave theory to high scattering regions. Journal of Physical Oceanography.

Bornemann, F.J., Rowell, D.P., Evans, B., Lapworth, D.J., Lwiza, K., Macdonald, D.M., Marsham, J.H., Tesfaye, K., Ascott, M.J. and Way, C., 2019. Future changes and uncertainty in decision-relevant measures of East African climate. Climatic Change, pp.1-20

Gownaris, N.J., Rountos, K.J., Kaufman, L., Kolding, J., Lwiza, K.M.M. and Pikitch, E.K., 2018. Water level fluctuations and the ecosystem functioning of lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research,44(6), 1154-1163.

Hornstein, J., Espinosa, E.P., Cerrato, R.M., Lwiza, K.M. and Allam, B., 2018. The influence of temperature stress on the physiology of the Atlantic surfclam, Spisula solidissima. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 222, 66-73.

Gownaris, N.J., Pikitch, E.K., Aller, J.Y., Kaufman, L.S., Kolding, J., Lwiza, K.M., Obiero, K.O., Ojwang, W.O., Malala, J.O. and Rountos, K.J. 2017. Fisheries and water level fluctuations in the world’s largest desert lake. Ecohydrology, 10(1), e1769.

Swanson, R.L., K. Lwiza, K. Willig, K. Morris. 2016. Superstorm Sandy marine debris wash-ups on Long Island – What happened to them? Mar. Pollution Bulletin, 108:215-231.

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