Dr. Brian Dzwonkowski


Assistant Professor, University of South Alabama
Senior Marine Scientist I, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Ph.D. 2009, University of Delaware

Emphasis: coastal circulation and across-shelf exchange processes, estuarine circulation and exchange processes, physical-biological coupling in the marine environment, and ocean observing systems. 

Research Interests

I am interested in physical processes that influence three-dimensional transport in the coastal ocean as well as how this transport impacts marine ecosystems.  Circulation and transport processes on coastal shelves and in estuaries provide a pathway for mass property and material exchange, which can have a critical impact on the state of a marine system.  This is a challenging (but very interesting) region to study as a result of there being a broad scope of interacting forcing functions that operate on a wide range of temporal and spatial scales in conjunction with an irregular physical environment (i.e. bathymetry and coastal geography).  This results in complex flow fields.  As such, my research has focused on improving the understanding of the flow field and its associated response to forcing functions at a range of temporal and spatial scales.  By examining estuarine and coastal circulation, I hope to provide a more complete understanding of the processes that dictate the origin, fate, and residence time of material in the coastal ocean.  Another aspect of my research involves linking these physical processes to biological aspects of marine system ecosystems.  As systems becoming more strongly influenced by anthropogenic impacts, identifying and understanding environmental controls over marine life cycles is essential to elucidating the inter-annual variability that characterizes biological systems.  Through my research efforts, I have also developed a keen awareness of the need to acquire high resolution data on estuarine and coastal physical processes due to the importance of these regions’ ecosystems and their relatively sensitive nature.  As such, coastal ocean observing systems provide a critical tool in the efforts of understanding the variability in these systems by providing unprecedented temporal and spatial views of coastal currents and hydrographic conditions.  The continued maintenance and expansion of these observing systems require both operational and scientific justification.  Thus, my research focuses on demonstrating new science based on the data provided from these observing systems.


Dzwonkowski, B., K.-C. Wong, and W.J. Ullman. 2014. Sea level and velocity characteristics of a salt marsh tidal channel of the Murderkill Estuary, Delaware, Journal of Coastal Research, 30, 63-74, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-12-00161.1.

Dzwonkowski, B., K. Park, Lee, J., B. Webb, and A. Valle-Levinson,. 2014. Spatial variability in the spring velocity structure on a river-influenced inner shelf in coastal Alabama, Continental Shelf Research, 74, 25-34, doi://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.csr.2013.12.005.

Drymon, J.M, L. Carassou, S.P. Powers, M. Grace, J. Dindo, and B. Dzwonkowski. 2013. Multiscale analysis of Factors That Affect the Distribution of Sharks Throughout the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Fishery Bulletin 111(4): 370-380.

Lee, J., B.M. Webb, B. Dzwonkowski, K. Park, and A. Valle-Levinson. 2013. Bathymetric influences on tidal currents at the entrance to a highly stratified, shallow estuary. Continental Shelf Research, 58, 1-11, doi:10.1016/j.csr.2013.03.002.

Dzwonkowski, B. and K. Park. 2012. Subtidal circulation on the Alabama shelf during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. J. Geophys. Res., 117, C03027, doi:10.1029/2011JC007664.

Dzwonkowski, B., K. Park, H.K. Ha, W.M. Graham, F.J. Hernandez, and S.P. Powers. 2011. Hydrographic variability on a coastal shelf directly impacted by estuarine discharge. Continental Shelf Research, 31, 939-950, doi:10.1016/j.csr.2011.03.001.

Dzwonkowski, B., K. Park, and L. Jiang. 2011. Subtidal across-shelf surface transport and the factors that influence exchange on the Alabama shelf. Journal of Geophysical Research, 166, C10012, doi:10.1029/2011JC007188.

Carassou, L., B. Dzwonkowski, F.J. Hernandez, S.P. Powers, K. Park, W.M Graham, and J. Mareska. 2011. Environmental influences on juvenile fish abundances in a river-dominated coastal system. Mar. Coast. Fish., 3(1), 411-427, doi:10.1080/19425120.2011.642492.

Dzwonkowski, B., B.L. Lipphardt, J.T. Kohut, X.-H. Yan, and R.W. Garvine. 2010. Synoptic measurements of episodic flow events in the central Mid-Atlantic Bight, Journal of Geophysical Research, 115, C12052, doi:10.1029/2010JC006449.

Drymon JM, Powers SP, Dindo J, Dzwonkowski B, Henwood T. 2010. Distribution of sharks across a continental shelf in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science, 2, 440-450, doi:10.1577/C09-061.1.

Dzwonkowski, B. and K. Park. 2010. Influence of wind stress and discharge on the mean and seasonal currents on the Alabama shelf of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Geophysical Research, 115, C12052, doi:10.1029/2010JC006449.

Dzwonkowski B., J.T. Kohut, and X.H. Yan. 2009. Seasonal differences in wind-driven across-shelf forcing and response relationships in the shelf surface layer of the central Mid-Atlantic Bight, Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, C08018, doi:10.1029/2008JC004888.

Dzwonkowski B., J.T. Kohut, and X.H. Yan. 2009. Sub-inertial surface flow field over the shelf of the central Mid-Atlantic Bight, Continental Shelf Research, 29, 1873-1886, doi:10.1016/j.csr.2009.07.005.

Wong, K.-C., B. Dzwonkowski, and W.J. Ullman. 2009. Temporal and spatial variability of sea level and volume flux in the Murderkill estuary, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 84, 440-446, doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2009.07.008.

Dzwonkowski, B., and X.-H. Yan. 2005. Tracking of a Chesapeake Bay estuarine outflow plume with satellite-based ocean color data, Continental Shelf Research, 25(16), 1942-1958.

Dzwonkowski, B., and X.-H. Yan. 2005. Development and application of a neural network based ocean color algorithm in coastal waters,  International Journal of Remote Sensing, 26, 1175-1200.

Jo, Y.-H., X.-H. Yan, B. Dzwonkowski, and T.W. Liu. 2005. A study of the freshwater discharge from the Amazon River into the tropical Atlantic using multi-senor data, Geophysical Research Letters, 32(2), L02605. doi:10.1029/2004GL021840.

Yan, X.-H., Y.-H. Jo, B. Dzwonkowski, and L. Jiang. 2005. Applications of Hilbert-Huang Transform to ocean-atmosphere remote sensing research. In: Hilbert-Huang Transforms in Engineering, Huang, N. and Attoh-Okine, N.O., Eds., Marcel Dekker, pp. 59-82.