Tallinn University of Technology

Dynamics of Gradient Systems

Research group leader: Prof Urmas Lips


We study multiscale physical processes that influence the biogeochemical cycle of substances and control the transport and mixing in the stratified Baltic Sea, including the hypoxic layer and redoxcline. Main focus is on submesoscale processes, their local and largescale impact on water and matter exchange between the sub-basins, coastal and open sea, and vertically between the water layers that influence the dynamics of the spring bloom, mixotrophic organisms and carbon fluxes. Marine ecology studies focus on pelagic and benthic primary producers, benthic invertebrates, their dynamics and role, and impact of micro-litter and hazardous substances on marine biota.


The main method is field studies using RV Salme and autonomous instruments based on new technologies, including a unique bottom-mounted profiling station and underwater glider. Numerical modeling is used for process-oriented studies. For the water sample analyses flow-cytometry, spectroscopy, microscopy, and metagenomics are used.


Results feed into the development of marine environmental monitoring and assessment methods, including micro-litter monitoring, assessment of human pressures, advising the Ministry of the Environment on marine strategy development, participating in international co-operation on the protection of marine environmental and Estonian maritime spatial planning.


Modelling and Remote Sensing of Marine Dynamics

Research group leader: Prof Urmas Raudsepp


The research team is conducting oceanographic process research based on scientific analysis to find cause-and-effect relationships. Innovative (operational) methods for monitoring the marine environment and analyzing changes are being developed, incl. weather forecasting and climate models applied to  supercomputers, to elucidate the mechanisms of atmospheric and ocean interactions; and machine learning based algorithms for satellite image processing and model data analysis. The research group has a long experience in developing applications / methods of operational oceanography, the outputs of which are information provided to the public and public authorities on water level variability, ice conditions and other parameters of marine physics. The research group is making a significant contribution to the pan-European Copernicus program. In scientific process research and applied research, the strength of the research team is the use of big data (mass processing) for climate studies and statistical analysis of the properties of the marine environment, as well as for finding dynamic relationships.

Methods used

Numerical modeling: operational marine forecasting models running on supercomputers (Copernicus Marine Service); atmospheric and marine models for weather, climate and process research, and for the creation and implementation of reanalysis databases. Remote sensing: optical, infrared and radar satellite imagery, drone observations and shore-based radar data to describe and assess the state of the sea and land. Operational surveys: world-class scientific equipment for the calibration and validation of satellite images and numerical models; development of on-line information technology solutions and development of innovative research equipment.