Sam B. Cornish

Sam B. Cornish


I’m interested in the dynamics of the Arctic Ocean. It is a complicated space and one which is sparsely observed and difficult to model. This means we still have a lot to learn.

The Arctic is changing rapidly. And although the Arctic Ocean is a comparitively small ocean, it plays an important role in larger scale climate processes, being positioned at the northerly node of the global cycle of heat and humidity.

The physical dynamics of the Arctic encompass atmospheric, oceanic and cryospheric processes. These systems are interlinked at the surface of the ocean. As an ocean that is stratified by salinity (how salty a layer of water is determines its position in the water column), freshwater in the Arctic represents an important control on these linkages, because its abundance modulates connection between the ocean interior and the surface.

My PhD research focusses on understanding freshwater changes in the Arctic.

My interest is both in the fundamental physics of the Arctic ocean and atmosphere circulation, and its representation in climate models. I use linear response theory to interrogate coupled climate models and evaluate the way they represent these systems.

In Autumn 2019 I participated in the MOSAiC School aboard Akademik Fedorov in the central Arctic, and made these podcasts as part of the outreach effort to animate this vital Arctic science:

MOSAiC Mixdown: Mini-podcasts from the Arctic

I am also the Coordinator of the Oxford Polar Forum. The Polar Forum exists to connect and support Oxford’s polar researchers, and to promote their work beyond Oxford. Please get in touch if you’d like to be added to our mailing list! We are on Twitter @OxPolar, and our website is

Manuscripts in preparation:

  • S.B. Cornish, M. Muilwijk, J. Scott, J. Marson, P. Myers, W. Zhang, Q. Wang, Y. Kostov, H.L. Johnson. Effect of wind-driven sea ice import/export in Beaufort Gyre adjustment.
  • S.B. Cornish, H.L. Johnson, Y. Kostov, R.D.C. Mallett, J. Dörr, and A. Richards. Rise and fall of ice production in the Arctic Ocean’s ice factories.
  • S.B. Cornish, H.L. Johnson, Y. Kostov, C. Lique, C. Talandier and M. Muilwijk. Upstream effects of Fram Strait sea ice export.