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 Introduction to Observational Physical Oceanograph  posted by  duggu   on 1/31/2008  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Ferrari, Raffaele, and Terrence Joyce, 12.808 Introduction to Observational Physical Oceanography, Fall 2004. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 09 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Ocean color map of the Pacific.

An ocean color map of the Pacific Ocean as of July 31st, 1993. (Image courtesy of NASA.)

Course Highlights

This course includes assignments and a complete set of lecture notes.

Course Description

Observational physical oceanography includes topics such as the  physical description of the sea, the physical properties of seawater, methods and measurements, wind-driven ocean circulation, abyssal ocean circulation, boundary processes, and wave motions.

Technical Requirements

MATLAB® software is required to view and run the .m, .mat, .loc, .ctd and .lad files found on this course site. File decompression software, such as Winzip® or StuffIt®, is required to open the .zip files found on this course site.



Prof. Raffaele Ferrari

Dr. Terrence Joyce

Course Description

This course covers topics like: Observational physical oceanography, physical description of the sea, physical properties of seawater, methods and measurements, wind-driven ocean circulation, abyssal ocean circulation, boundary processes, and wave motions.

The mathematics and physics required for admission to the graduate curriculum in the WHOI/MIT Joint Program or consent of the instructor. The physical oceanography curriculum includes core courses (of which 12.808 is a part), mathematics courses, and electives. Each student formulates a program of studies with the assistance of academic advisors drawn from both MIT and WHOI.

Students are expected to attend research seminars and to complete widespread independent reading of the literature. The core curriculum is intended to provide the minimum, essential foundation in dynamics for students pursuing research in physical oceanography.

Course Organization

Homework: 5 homework assignments = 30% of grade

Presentations: Researching one type of measurement system used in physical oceanography = 30% of grade

Exam: Final exam at the end of class = 30% of grade


1 Some Physical Properties of Sea Water Problem set 1 out
2 Rotation 101: Some Basics Problem set 1 due
3 Rotation 101 (cont.): Effects of Rotation on a Sphere: f- and β-planes

Earth's Gravity Field and Sea Level
4 Ekman Layers, Friction and Geostrophic Flow Problem set 2 out
5 Wind-Driven Circulation: Stommel's Gyre and Sverdrup's Balance Problem set 2 due
6 Stress in the Ocean  
7 Observations of the Gulf Stream in the N. Atlantic Problem set 3 out
8 Global Hydrographic Climatology Problem set 3 due
9 Equatorial Twists to Mid-Latitude Dynamics  
10 The Large Scale Thermohaline Circulation: Some Thermodynamics Problem set 4 out
11 The Thermohaline Circulation Problem set 4 due
12 Another Wrinkle on Observations of the Abyssal Ocean: Geothermal Heating and Hydrothermal Vents  
13 Tidal Forces Problem set 5 out
14 Introduction to "Waves" and Time Dependent Motion Problem set 5 due
15 Internal Waves Presentations due
16 Final Exam   Tell A Friend