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OCE/MPO 603: Introduction to Physical Oceanography


Instructor: Lisa Beal
Time: Tuesday & Thursday
10:30 am - 11:45 am
Location: MSC 343
beal
beal

Course Overview

Application of the laws of physics to the study of the properties and circulation of the world’s oceans. Physical description of the sea; physical properties of sea water; forcing and the equations of motion; boundary processes; waves; thermohaline circulation; variability; instrumentation and observation.
Prerequisites: the mathematics and physics required for admission to the graduate curriculum at RSMAS, or consent of the instructor. It will be assumed that you know Newton’s 3 Laws, linear and angular momentum conservation, derivatives and partial derivatives, integrals, scalars and vectors, gradient, divergence, and curl.

Course requirements: Two graded exams, midterm (25%) and final (45%); One report/project with presentation and written requirements (30%). Study questions are provided weekly and solutions led and discussed by YOU during class. Click here for details of the project

Recommended Books

  • Introduction to Physical Oceanography by Robert Stewart (RS). This is an online text, which includes a printable PDF and cover. The PDF version is September 2008. The HTML version has some errors (information from R. Stewart), but may be updated more often.
  • Descriptive Physical Oceanography: An Introduction by Lynne Talley et al. (LT). New text in 2014. On reserve at RSMAS library.
  • Introduction to Physical Oceanography by John Knauss (JK). On reserve in library and stocked at UM bookshop.

Other Books and Further Reading

  • Introductory Dynamical Oceanography by Pond and Pickard (referred to as PP in notes).
  • Ocean Circulation by Open University team (OU)
  • Atmosphere-Ocean Dynamics by Adrian Gill.

Course Outline

Note: Links will be made available and/or updated as lectures are given.
Lectures  Descriptions
Lecture 1 Introduction - Course Overview
Lecture 2 Geography of the world’s oceans and major current systems (RS3)
Lecture 3 Physical properties of seawater I - Temperature, Salinity and Pressure (RS6,JK2,PP2)
Lecture 4 Physical properties of seawater II - potential temperature, density, potential density, static stability (JK2,PP5)
Lecture 5 Property distributions - water masses and tracers (JK8,RS6)
Lecture 6 Forcing of the Ocean: Tides, winds, and heating (RS4-5 &17,JK3,OU1-2)
Lecture 7 Mass, energy, and salt conservation: continuity equation (PP4,JK4,OU6,PP10)
Lecture 8 Equations of Motion on a rotating planet - Coriolis force and inertial oscillations (JK5,PP6,OU3)
Lecture 9 Basin budgets and two-layer exchange flows (JK11)
Lecture 10 Scaling: relative importance of the terms in the Equations of Motion (PP7)
Lecture 11 Ekman Layers and the Ekman Spiral (PP9,JK5-6,OU3,RS9)
Lecture 12 Geostrophy: Dynamic Method and Thermal Wind (RS10,PP8,JK6,OU3)
Lecture 13 Potential vorticity equation - concept of curl/spin/vorticity (PP9,JK5,RS12)
Lecture 14 The Sverdrup balance and gyre circulation (RS11,PP9,JK6)
Lecture 15 Western Intensification (RS11,PP9,OU4)
Lecture 16 The Agulhas Current as a case study of a Western Boundary Current
Lecture 17 Upwelling - equatorial, coastal, and Antarctic (OU5,JK7,RS14)
Lecture 18 Wind-generated waves (PP12,JK9)
Lecture 19 Eddies and planetary waves (PP12,JK10,OU5)
Lecture 20 Water mass formation and mixing (RS13,PP10)
Lecture 21 Abyssal circulation (RS13,PP10,OU6)
Lecture 22 Thermohaline circulation and heat transport (RS13,OU6)
Lecture 23 Instrumentation and Experimentation

Lecture 1: Introduction - Course Overview
Lecture 2: Geography of the world’s oceans and major current systems (RS3)
Lecture 3: Physical properties of seawater I - Temperature, Salinity and Pressure (RS6,JK2,PP2)
Lecture 4: Physical properties of seawater II - potential temperature, density, potential density, static stability (JK2,PP5)
Lecture 5: Property distributions - water masses and tracers (JK8,RS6)
Lecture 6:Forcing of the Ocean: Tides, winds, and heating (RS4-5 &17,JK3,OU1-2)
Lecture 7:Mass, energy, and salt conservation: continuity equation (PP4,JK4,OU6,PP10)
Lecture 8:Equations of Motion on a rotating planet - Coriolis force and inertial oscillations (JK5,PP6,OU3)
Lecture 9:Basin budgets and two-layer exchange flows (JK11)
Lecture 10:Scaling: relative importance of the terms in the Equations of Motion (PP7)
Lecture 11:Ekman Layers and the Ekman Spiral (PP9,JK5-6,OU3,RS9)
Lecture 12:Geostrophy: Dynamic Method and Thermal Wind (RS10,PP8,JK6,OU3)