Breaking through: The Impact of Turbulence on the Gas-Liquid Interface (GLITR)

Research project

Breaking through: The Impact of Turbulence on the Gas-Liquid Interface (GLITR)

The project aim is to understand how O2 and CO2 are transported into the turbulent oceans from the turbulent atmosphere.


A rigorous understanding of the role of turbulence, with its wide range of scales and phenomena, on mass transport across a gas-liquid interface (GLI) is one of the remaining challenges in fluid mechanics.

Its importance is illustrated by considering that nearly 50% of anthropogenic CO2 is driven into the oceans by a turbulent process we do not fully understand. We know that turbulence modifies the topology of the GLI from both the liquid and gas sides, but due to the complexity of the problem, we do not understand the dominant mechanisms that control this process or how they connect to mass transfer.

My previous work has both shown how turbulence can be tailored in the lab and how the parameters of the turbulence influence shear on a surface, making me well placed to tackle this problem. A plethora of models based on limited data exist for mass transfer across a GLI, but they have contrasting backgrounds, parameters, and results. This is indicative that something is missing and that there is a critical need for deeper understanding of the underlying phenomena.

GLITR will provide a step change in our understanding of phenomena at the GLI by initiating a paradigm shift in the way lab experiments are conducted, considering the complexity of interacting turbulent gas and liquid flows for the first time. Tailored turbulence with adjustable intensity and length scales will be generated with an active turbulence generator in both the gas and liquid simultaneously to provide new insight not previously accessible.

This will result in deformed interfaces that will necessitate the development of new methods to investigate the associated mass transport and fluid mechanics. Correlations between the tailored turbulence in both the gas and liquid, the surface topology, and the mass transport across the GLI will enable the development of data-driven models and breakthroughs in our understanding of interfacial phenomena while initiating a wholly new way of addressing this problem.

Project timeline and Funding

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon Europe 1.1 European Research Council under Grant Agreement No 101041000.

GLITR will run from 2022 until the end of 2027.