Stephanie Waterman

Assistant Professor

ESB 3053
(604) 827-2665

I am a sea-going physical oceanographer with research interests in process studies related to ocean dynamics. I am particularly interested in scale interactions, and I like to consider the inter-relationships between various components of the oceanic circulation at different time and length scales, and hence governed by different physics. Further, I investigate the implications of these interactions for the large-scale circulation and the ocean's role in the climate system. One example is how features of the large-scale circulation, like the Gulf Stream jet, interact with the smaller-scale mesoscale eddy field, the "weather systems" of the ocean. Other examples are how the internal wave field on sub-eddy scales couples to smaller-scale turbulent motions, and how waves and turbulence are modulated by the larger-scale background flow.

I approach the study of oceanic processes from both observational and theoretical perspectives. The methods I employ include targeted field observations, observational data analysis, idealised process modelling, analytical analysis, and laboratory studies. Broadly, I make and interpret process-targeted observations, and develop and study simplified physical and mathematical models of ocean processes. The ultimate goals are to observe the real world system, identify the important physical processes underpinning a particular phenomena, and reduce their complexity to the most basic physical models that capture the essential physics. It is from study of these theoretical models that understanding of the physical mechanisms is ultimately gained.

My specific research interests are in

  • Arctic oceanography, in particular lateral & vertical mixing and their role in shelf-basin exchange.
  • Southern ocean dynamics, in particular the role of mesoscale & sub-mesoscale processes.
  • Western boundary current jets & their recirculation gyres, in particular the role of eddy fluxes in these systems.
  • Geophysical fluid dynamics, in particular jets, eddies & scale interactions.

For more information, see

Research Opportunities

Postdoctoral Position (2 years): Hakai Coastal Initiative Postdoctoral Fellowship in Continental Shelf Dynamics

Applications are invited for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship (PDF) to study the dynamics of the continental shelf using a diverse collection of in situ ocean observations including ocean glider, mooring and ship-based data.

Background: Queen Charlotte Sound (QCS) is a large semi-enclosed body of water off the central coast of British Columbia Canada north of Vancouver Island.  The region is a vital commercial and subsistence fishing ground, and hosts many of western Canada’s Marine Protected Areas. Unlike much of continental shelf of British Columbia, the shelf here is very wide, relatively shallow, and incised by a large number of canyons with egress to the open ocean. Similar to much of the west coast of the Americas, wind-driven upwelling plays a dominant role in the regional dynamics. However, QCS has very strong freshwater forcing from the surrounding mountain ranges and vigorous mixing, implying that lateral buoyancy-driven (estuarine-like) circulation is also important in driving cross-shelf transports.  On the landward side, QCS is surrounded by fjords that are home to commercially-important salmon populations. Some of these fjords are deep with annual deep-water renewal; an important implication is that fjord waters periodically go hypoxic.  Better understanding of QCS shelf circulation will allow us to better understand how these productive fjords renew, and improve our ability to predict how they will be impacted by future change.

Project Goals: The project aims to address the following research questions. 1. What are the dominant transport pathways in Queen Charlotte Sound? 2. How do these pathways connect the open ocean to British Columbia’s central coast? What are the dynamical processes involved in these connections? 3. How do these pathways and processes impact properties that are important for the marine ecosystem (e.g. water temperature, oxygen, pH, and primary production)?

Project Team: The fellow will collaborate closely with a working group that includes scientists from the Hakai Institute, the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria and the Institute of Ocean Sciences, a scientific facility of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.  Further the fellow will join the Canadian-Pacific Robotic Ocean Observing Facility (C-PROOF) team. The project is supervised by Dr. Stephanie Waterman (University of British Columbia), Dr. Jennifer Jackson (Hakai Institute), Dr. Jody Klymak (University of Victoria), Dr. Tetjana Ross (Institute of Ocean Sciences) and Dr. Charles Hannah (Institute of Ocean Sciences).

Position Responsibilities: The postdoc will be responsible for the following tasks within the context of the overall project as described above: 1. to work with the project team on processing, analyzing and interpreting existing observational data; 2. to participate in the continued collection of in situ observational data in the region; 3. to work with the regional modelling community on comparing observations and model simulations to better understand the fidelity of the models in capturing coastal processes; 4.  to write high-impact manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals


  • a PhD in physical oceanography
  •  experience working with observational datasets, as evidenced by the candidate’s publication record
  • willingness to work collaboratively with a group of scientists with diverse expertise and experiences in oceanography
  • capacity to lead projects with collaborators, excellent communication skills, and demonstrated ability to finish projects on time

Additional Details: The Hakai Institute is a research organization based in British Columbia with substantial oceanographic observations collected by experts in physical, chemical and biological data. The PDF will have the opportunity to visit Hakai field stations occasionally, though this project is primarily focused on the analysis and synthesis of data that have already been collected. The position will be officially based at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver Canada, though the successful candidate can choose to be based in Vancouver, Victoria, or Sidney BC.

This is a limited term, two-year PDF position paid at a rate of $55,000 CAD per year plus Mandatory Employment Related Benefits with an opportunity for renewal given satisfactory performance and funding availability. A research budget is also available. We seek a candidate who has completed a PhD within the last five years (special allowances will be made for career interruptions and personal circumstances) and who shows evidence of strong quantitative skills and an understanding of coastal oceanography.

To apply, please send a cover letter, CV and two research publications to Dr. Stephanie Waterman by email ( Your cover letter should address your motivation to excel in this project, and the skills and experience you can bring to the work. Review of applications will begin on February 1 2021. Start date is negotiable with a preferred start of spring or summer 2021.

Stephanie Waterman
December 21, 2020
September 1, 2021

- B.Sc. Engineering Physics, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada.  2001.
- M.Sc. Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA. 2002.
- Ph.D. Physical Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  (WHOI) Joint Program, Woods Hole, USA. 2009.
- Research Associate, Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College, London, UK. 2009 - 2012.
- Research Fellow, School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK. 2009 - 2012.
- Research Fellow and Associate Investigator, Climate Change Research Centre and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate
  System Science, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. 2012 - 2013.
- Assistant Professor, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver,
  Canada. 2014-present.

PDFs and RAs

Postdoctoral Fellow

Graduate Students

PhD Oceanography