Fluid dynamics, the study of fluids in motion, lies at the heart of most questions that humans ask of the ocean.  Increasing numbers of people are moving to its coastlines, yet the added stress we put on the ocean can overwhelm its benefits.  Evaluating problems such as storm surges, climate change, and pollutant discharges requires a detailed knowledge of ocean, estuary, and air-sea transport processes.

I enjoy living and working in a metro region with 20 million people mostly living on islands like Manhattan, and more affected by the ocean than many ever realized.  I’m a research assistant professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, and my specific research interests include estuary and coastal ocean physics, storm surges and sea level rise, urban coastal adaptation, turbulent mixing, air-sea interaction and gas exchange, sediment transport, urban and coastal atmospheric science, and numerical ocean and atmospheric modeling.


11 Jun 2014:  We are hiring one or more postdoctoral research associates and research scientists in coastal ocean modeling – first deadline is July 15, but after that we may hire again soon

1 June 2014:  Our HUD-Rebuild By Design team was selected as a winner of the competition, and New York State is being awarded $60 million to build out our project — Living, Growing Breakwaters off Staten Island

25 Apr 2014:  We published a new paper (PDF) that shows an increase in the likelihood of a “moderate flood” event (1.75 m) around NYC has increased since the 1800s by a factor of 20.  Read the press release and see the nice video from AGU



Columbia University, Ph.D., physical oceanography, dissertation

University of South Carolina, M.S., marine science (adviser: Gail Kineke)

University of Michigan, B.S., physical oceanography


PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS (Google Scholar profile page) (CV PDF)

Talke, S., P. Orton, and D. Jay, 2014.  Increasing Storm Tides at New York City, 1844-2013, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, DOI: doi:10.1002/2014GL059574.  webPDF

Meir, T., Orton, P.M., Pullen, J., Holt, T., Thompson, W.T., Arend, M.F., 2013. Forecasting the New York City urban heat island and sea breeze during extreme heat events. Weather and Forecasting.  doi: 10.1175/WAF-D-13-00012.1.  webPDF

Orton, P., N. Georgas, A. Blumberg, and J. Pullen, 2012. Detailed Modeling of Recent Severe Storm Tides in Estuaries of the New York City Region, J. Geophys. Res., 117(C9), doi:10.1029/2012JC008220.  web | PDF

Harrison, E., Veron, F. Ho, D., Reid, M., Orton, P. and McGillis, W., 2012. Nonlinear interaction between rain-and wind-induced air-water gas exchange, J. Geophys. Res., 117(C3), C03034.  web

Ho, D.T., Schlosser, P. and Orton, P.M., 2011. On factors controlling air-water gas exchange in a large tidal river, Estuaries and Coasts, 34:1103-1116, DOI: 10.1007/s12237-011-9396-4.  web

Orton, P.M., McGillis, W.R., and Zappa, C.J., 2011.  An autonomous self-orienting catamaran for measuring air-water fluxes and forcing. In: Gas Transfer at Water Surfaces, edited by S. Komori et al., Kyoto University Press.  PDF

Orton, P. M., Zappa, C.J., and McGillis, W.R., 2010.  Tidal and atmospheric influences on near-surface turbulence in an estuary, J. Geophys. Res., 115, C12029, doi:10.1029/2010JC006312.  PDF | web

Orton, P.M., McGillis, W.R., and Zappa, C.J., 2010.  Sea breeze forcing of estuary turbulence and CO2 exchange. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L13603, doi:10.1029/2010GL043159.  PDF | web

Hickey, B. M., R. M. Kudela, J. D. Nash, K. W. Bruland, W. T. Peterson, P. MacCready, E. J. Lessard, D. A. Jay, N. S. Banas, A. M. Baptista, E. P. Dever, P. M. Kosro, L. K. Kilcher, A. R. Horner-Devine, E. D. Zaron, R. M. McCabe, J. O. Peterson, P. M. Orton, J. Pan, and M. C. Lohan, 2010. River Influences on Shelf Ecosystems: Introduction and Synthesis, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2009JC005452.  web

Horner-Devine, A., Jay, D.A., Orton, P.M., and Spahn, E., 2009.  A conceptual model of the strongly tidal Columbia River plume. Journal of Marine Systems, 78(3): 460–475, doi:10.1016/j.jmarsys.2008.11.025.  web

Jay, D.A., Pan, J., Orton, P.M., and Horner-Devine, A., 2009. Asymmetry of tidal plume fronts in an eastern boundary current regime. Journal of Marine Systems, 78(3): 442-459, doi:10.1016/j.jmarsys.2008.11.015.  web

Orton, P.M. and Visbeck, M., 2009. Variability of internally generated turbulence in an estuary, from 100 days of continuous observations. Continental Shelf Research, doi:10.1016/j.csr.2007.07.008.  PDF | web

Pan, J., Jay, D. A., and Orton, P. M., 2007. Analyses of internal solitary waves generated at the Columbia River plume front using SAR imagery, J. Geophys. Res., 112, C07014, doi:10.1029/2006JC003688.  web

Jay, D. A., Orton, P. M., Chisholm, T., Wilson, D.J., and Fain, A.M.V. 2007.  Particle trapping in stratified estuaries: Consequences of mass conservation. Estuaries and Coasts 30(6), 1095-1105, doi: 10.1007/BF02841399.  web

Jay, D. A., Orton, P. M., Chisholm, T., Wilson, D.J., and Fain, A.M.V. 2007.  Particle trapping in stratified estuaries: Application to observations. Estuaries and Coasts 30(6), 1106-1125, doi: 10.1007/BF02841400.  web

Orton, P. M., and Jay, D. A., 2005. Observations at the tidal plume front of a high-volume river outflow, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L11605, doi:10.1029/2005GL022372.  PDF | web

Emmett, R.L, Brodeur, R.D. and Orton, P.M. 2004. The vertical distribution of juvenile salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) and associated fishes in the Columbia River plume. Fisheries Oceanography 13:6, 392-402, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2419.2004.00294.x.  web

Fain, A.M.V., Jay, D. A., Wilson, D. J., Orton, P. M., and Baptista, A. M. 2001. Seasonal, monthly and tidal patterns of particulate matter dynamics in the Columbia River estuary, Estuaries 24: 770-786, doi: 10.2307/1352884.  web

Orton, P.M. and Kineke, G.C. 2001.  Comparing calculated and observed vertical suspended sediment distributions from a Hudson River Estuary turbidity maximum. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 52(3), 401-410, doi: 10.1006/ecss.2000.0747.  PDF | web



NY Times Room-For-Debate editorial, Should New York Build Sea Gates? Big Projects, Big Problems, So Think Small

Higinbotham, J.R., Moisan, J. and Orton, P. 2009. Solar Powered Autonomous Surface Vehicle Development and Operation. Sea Technology 50(7).

O’Mullan, G., Orton, P., McGillis, W., Sambrotto, R., and Mailloux, B., Sniffing out the Truth, New York Times Sunday Edition, Opinions Section, January 21, 2007.  PDF | web

Orton, P.M., (on climate change) Energy crisis much broader than perceived, The Oregonian, Editorial Section, January 29, 2001.  PDF

Schwing, F.B., Orton, P.M., Jay, D.A., Batchelder, H. and Rosenfeld, L.K. 1999.  Conference explores El Nino’s relationship to the Northeast Pacific.  EOS: Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 80(11):122.