Dr. Kara Lavender Law

Research Professor of Oceanography

PhD – Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UCSD, Physical Oceanography, 2001
BS – Duke University, Mathematics, 1994

Research Areas & Interests:

Dr. Law’s research interests include large-scale and mesoscale ocean circulation; intermediate and deep water formation in the North Atlantic and its role in the meridional overturning circulation;  the distribution of plastic marine debris driven by ocean physics; and the degradation and ultimate fate of plastics in the ocean.

Professional Activities:

  • Co-Principal Investigator, Marine Debris Working Group, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), University of California, Santa Barbara, 2011-2015.
  • Member, Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) Working Group 40:  Sources, fate and effects of micro-plastics in the environment – a global assessment, 2012-2015.
  • Participant, National Academy of Sciences Discussion Forum:  Micro-plastics in the marine environment & potential human health risks, Apr. 2014.
  • Member, Ocean Health Index Scientific Research Team, 2010-2012.
  • Board of Directors, Gulf of Maine Marine Education Association, 2014-present.

Selected Publications:

Irwin, E. G., P. J. Culligan, M. Fischer-Kowalski, K. L. Law, R. Murtugudde and S. Pfirman, 2018. Bridging barriers to advance global sustainability. Nat. Sustain., 1, 324-326.

Geyer, R., J. R. Jambeck and K. L. Law, 2017. Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Sci. Adv. 3, e1700782.

Law, K. L., 2017. Plastics in the Marine Environment. Annu. Rev. Mar. Sci. 9, 205-229. doi:10.1146/annurev-marine-010816-060409

Palter, J., C.-A. Caron, K. L. Law, J. K. Willis, D. S. Trossman, I. M. Yashayaev and D. Gilbert, 2016.  Variability of the directly-observed, mid-depth subpolar North Atlantic circulation. Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 2700-2708, doi:10.1002/2015GL067235.

Kukulka, T., K. L. Law and G. Proskurowski, 2016.  Evidence for the influence of surface heat fluxes on turbulent mixing of microplastic marine debris.  J. Phys. Oceanogr., 46, 809-815, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-15-0242.1

van Sebille, E., C. Wilcox, L. Lebreton, N. Maximenko, B. D. Hardesty, J. A. van Franeker, M. Eriksen, D. Siegel, F. Galgani and K. L Law, 2015. A global inventory of small floating plastic debris. Environ. Res. Lett. 10, 124006. doi:10.10088/1748-9326/10/12/124006

Brunner, K., T. Kukulka, G. Proskurowski and K. L. Law, 2015.  Passive buoyant tracers in the ocean surface boundary layer:  2. Observations and simulations of microplastic marine debris.  J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 120, 7559-7573, doi:10.1002/2015JC010840

Jambeck, J. R., R. Geyer, C. Wilcox, T. R. Siegler, M. Perryman, A. Andrady, R. Narayan, K. L. Law, 2015.  Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean.  Science, doi:10.1126/science.1260352.

Van Franeker, J. A. and K. L. Law, 2015.  Seabirds, gyres and global trends in plastic pollution.  Environ. Poll., 203, 89-96, doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2015.02.034

Law, K. L. and R. C. Thompson, 2014.  Microplastics in the seas.  Science 345, 144-145.

Law, K. L., S. E. Morét-Ferguson, D. S. Goodwin, E. R. Zettler, E. DeForce, T. Kukulka, G. Proskurowski, 2014.  Distribution of surface plastic debris in the eastern Pacific Ocean from an 11-year dataset.  Env. Sci. Technol., 48, pp. 4732-4738.

Law, K. L., 2012.  Career profiles-options and insights: Kara Lavender Law.  Oceanography, 25 (1), pp. 311-312.

Law, K. L. and M.C. Goldstein, 2012.  “The Ocean’s ‘Garbage Patches’:  What They Are and How They Impact the Ocean Ecosystem”.  Brooks/Cole Enrichment Module (textbook chapter), Brooks/Cole, Belmont, CA, 29 pp.

Kukulka, T., G. Proskurowski, S. Morét-Ferguson, D. Meyer, K. L. Law, 2012.  The effect of wind mixing on the vertical distribution of buoyant plastic debris: Observations and modeling.  Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L07601, doi:10.1029/2012GL051116.

Law, K. L., S. Morét-Ferguson, N. A. Maximenko, G. Proskurowski, E. E. Peacock, J. Hafner, and C. M. Reddy, 2010.  Plastic accumulation in the North Atlantic subtropical gyre.  Science, 329, pp. 1185-1188.

Morét-Ferguson, S., K. L. Law, G. Proskurowski, E. K. Murphy, E. E. Peacock, and C. M. Reddy, 2010.  The size, mass, and composition of plastic debris in the western North Atlantic Ocean.  Mar. Poll. Bull., 60, pp. 1873-1878.

Lozier, M.S., A. Adcroft, L. Beal, A. Bower, D. Byrne, A. Capotondi, V. Coles, K. Lavender, C.M. Lee, J. MacKinnon, K. Shearman, L. St. Laurent, L. Thompson and D. Witter, 2006. MPOWIR: Mentoring physical oceanography women to increase retention. Report of a workshop held October 9-12, 2005. 32 pp.  http://www.mpowir.org.

Lavender, K. L., W. B. Owens and R. E. Davis, 2005. The Mid-depth Circulation of the Subpolar North Atlantic Ocean as Measured by Subsurface Floats.  Deep-Sea Res., 52, pp. 767−785.

Lavender, K. L., R. E. Davis and W. B. Owens, 2002.  Observations of open-ocean deep convection in the Labrador Sea from subsurface floats.  J. Phys. Ocean., 32, pp. 511−526.

Lavender, K. L., R. E. Davis and W. B. Owens, 2000.  Mid-depth recirculation observed in the interior Labrador and Irminger seas by direct velocity measurements.  Nature, 407, pp. 66−69


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