The dynamics of the oceanic surface mixed layer was the topic of the Fourth ‘Aha Huliko'a Hawaiian Winter Workshop. The meeting was hosted by the University of Hawaii and was held from January 14 to 16, 1987. Some two dozen participants, representing diverse experimental and theoretical interests and viewpoints, were charged with “evaluating the state of the art and offering suggestions for future research.”
The ocean is primarily driven at the sea surface by the atmosphere. The fluxes of momentum, mass, and heat into the ocean are controlled by the oceanic surface mixed layer. Proper understanding of mixed layer dynamics is hence paramount for almost every problem in physical oceanography. This central role is not limited to physical oceanography. Mixed layer dynamics also affect the natural and anthropogenic chemical fluxes between the ocean and the atmosphere and therefore the geochemical cycle of many substances (F. Mackenzie, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.). Similarly, mixed layer dynamics are of crucial importance for the biological productivity of the upper ocean.