Professor David Marshall

Professor of Physical Oceanography


Department: Academic - Fellows & Lecturers



I am a Physical Oceanographer interested in understanding how and why the ocean circulates, how the ocean circulation might change in the future in response to anthropogenic forcing, and how the ocean circulation has varied in the past. I use both simple theoretical models to deepen understanding of the underlying processes – “to sharpen the questions” – and realistic models and observations to quantify their impact. A major focus of my work is understanding the interactions between ocean eddies, the analogue of weather systems in the atmosphere but on a much smaller spatial scale, and the large-scale circulation. We have developed a new approach to representing ocean eddies in climate models that preserves the symmetries and conservation laws of the underlying equations of motion. I also have strong interests in the Southern Ocean and the overturning circulation in the North Atlantic.


I studied at Imperial College, London, where I obtained a first degree in Physics and a Doctorate in Physical Oceanography. I spent three years as a post-doctoral researcher at MIT, before returning the UK to establish the Physical Oceanography Group at the University of Reading. My research group relocated to the Department of Physics  in 2007, as part of a new University of Oxford initiative in Physical Climate Science. I am currently Head of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics . I was recipient of the 2014 Appleton Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics for “fundamental contributions to understanding the fluid dynamics of the global ocean circulation”.

Publications (selected)

Pillar, H. R., P. Heimbach, H. L. Johnson, and D. P. Marshall, 2016: Dynamical attribution of recent variability in Atlantic overturning. J. Climate, 29, 3339-3352, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0727.1.

Maddison, J., and D. P. Marshall, 2013: The Eliassen-Palm flux tensor. J. Fluid Mech., 729, 69-102, doi:10.1017/jfm.2013.259.

Munday, D. R., H. L. Johnson, and D. P. Marshall, 2013: Eddy saturation of equilibrated circumpolar currents. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 43, 507-532, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-12-095.1.

Marshall, D. P., J. R. Maddison and P. S. Berloff, 2012: A framework for parameterizing eddy potential vorticity fluxes. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 42, 539-557, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-11-048.1.

Zhai, X., H. L. Johnson, and D. P. Marshall, 2010: Significant sink of ocean-eddy energy near western boundaries. Nature Geosci., 3, 608-612, doi:10.1038/ngeo943.

Marshall, D. P., and A. J. Adcroft, 2010: Parameterization of ocean eddies: potential vorticity mixing, energetics and Arnold’s stability condition. Ocean Modell., 32, 188-204, doi:10.1016/j.ocemod.2010.02.001.

Kanzow, T., H. L. Johnson, D. P. Marshall, S.A. Cunningham, J. J.-M. Hirschi, A. Mujahid, H. L. Bryden, W. E. Johns, 2009: Basin-wide integrated volume transports in an eddy-filled ocean. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 39, 3091-3110, doi:10.1175/2009JPO4185.1.

Johnson, H. L., and D. P. Marshall, 2002: A theory for the surface Atlantic response to thermohaline variability. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 32, 1121-1132, doi:10.1175/1520-0485(2002)0322.0.CO;2.

Marshall, D. P., 1997: Subduction of water masses in an eddying ocean. J. Mar. Res., 55, 201-222, doi:10.1357/0022240973224373.

Marshall, D. P., 1995: Topographic steering of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 25, 1636-1650, doi:10.1175/1520-0485(1995)0252.0.CO;2.


Further information can be found on my website.



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