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About me...




I am an oceanographer (Directrice de Recherche, CNRS) living in Toulouse, southwest of France and working at Laboratoire d'Aérologie.  Day after day, I use numerical modelling to understand complicated things occurring in the ocean, concerning water masses formation, dispersion, tracers, particulate matter and even biogeochemistry. I am convinced that each observation of temperature, salinity, chlorophyll, turbidity ... is a piece of a huge puzzle. Modelling is a good tool that helps to put the pieces together and to discover the hidden pieces. That is why I like so much working with people of the field.
One month ago (September 2012), a colleague, working at the interface sedimentology / biogeochemistry told of me:
"Claude is not a true modeller; we understand what she does". I am really proud of his assessment (thanks T.C.)

About Fukushima...
For long years, my main interest is the Mediterranean Sea but recently the terrible event of March 11 2011 in Japan (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident) modified my scientific path. Of course, my domain of interest did not allow me working on the direct consequences of this catastrophic event on the Japanese population. But on March 14, when Emmanuel Bosc from IAEA phoned our group to ask for a modelling of the Fukushima radionuclides dispersion in the sea water, we engaged ourselves immediatly. It was a race against the clock for all of us, to find bathymetric data, to prepare the tidal model, the 3D model, to find the forcing fields for the ocean and for the meteorology, to configure thre release points, to download the first available data, to look for the rivers, the observations locations (thanks Google Earth), to prepare the operational runs, to produce figures and to build the web site. In July, I went to the US for a conference to present our results and to meet Japanese and American colleagues. A few months after, Y. Masumoto from JAMSTEC  asked us to participate to a first paper devoted to the inercomparison of models. This paper was published in spring 2012 in  Elements. It was an honour to participate to this paper, to compare the source term obtained with the different models and the schemes of dispersion.
In the same time, we submitted a paper to Journal of Geophysical Research to present our detailed results.This paper was written in association with IAEA (Emmanuel Bosc and Iolanda Osvath) and CEREA (Marc Bocquet and Victor Winiarek) who provided the amount of atmospheric Cesium deposited at the sea surface. This paper has been accepted at the beginning of October 2012 (Estournel et al, in press).
Below the mean concentration of 137Cs in the surface water during the first month after the accident of the power plant.  


 About the Mediterranean

My research on the Mediterranean sea  a story beginning on the Gulf of Lion shelf and more precisely in the Rhone river plume (Estournel et al., 1997, 2001).  Based on comparisons of simulations with satellite data and then with VHF radars, the behaviour of the plume was studied in relation with the wind regime.
Later, thanks to the FETCH experiment, we moved to the entire Gulf of Lion shelf. People used to say that the circulation on the shelf was more or less erratic...At the opposite, using simulations checked with  shipborne ADCP  measurements, we (Estournel et al., 2003)  showed that in te dominant north and northwest wind situations, the currents are shaped by the wind curl which results from the continental orography.
Later my student Caroline Ulses studied the very large currents caused by east storms and the downwelling induced at the southwestern tip of the Gulf (Ulses et al., 2008a). After the rivers, the wind, came the dense water formation on the shelf. First in the eastern Mediterranean Sea (the Thermaikos Gulf) thanks to the EU project INTERPOL.  The paper Estournel et al., 2005 is a good reminder of my collaboration with greek colleagues. We observed the presence of dense water on the shelf and we used simulations to explain the mechanisms of its formation and dispersion. Later, Caroline Ulses focused on dense water cascadig in a canyon of the Gulf of Lion in Ulses et al., 2008b. This study was based on observations by our colleagues of CEFREM (Perpignan) and Barcelona.

After  the shelf, the deep sea... My student, Marine Herrmann studied the dense water formation in the deep region of the Gulf of Lion (Herrmann et al., 2008). In this paper, Marine focused on the impact of mesoscale processes on formation and dispersion of the dense water.

to be continued