Please note: You are viewing the unstyled version of this website. Either your browser does not support CSS (cascading style sheets) or it has been disabled. Skip navigation.

Syllabus and Lectures

   Print  PDF  Change text to small (default) Change text to medium Change text to large

Syllabus & Calendar

The syllabus can be found here and the course calendar can be found here.


1. An Introduction to Physical Oceanography and the course - Young-Oh Kwon

Lecture 1 - September 9th : [ppt] [pdf]

a. Ocean sciences, and the scope of physical oceanography.
b. A first look at large scale distributions and circulation, and the goals of this course.
    Part I; Temperature, salinity and other tracers in the deep ocean.
    Part II; Wind-driven circulation in the upper ocean.
c. Course administration.

(1) K05 Ch. 1.
(2) IPCC 2007, Exec. Summary of Ch. 5 and 5.1 

Additional Resources:
A comprehensive collection of (beautiful) modern hydrographic sections that span the world ocean are available from the eWOCE gallery

2. Seawater and its properties - Young-Oh Kwon

Lecture 2 - September 14th [ppt] [pdf] [video]

Temperature: definition, measurements, distribution

Lecture 3 - September 16th [ppt] [pdf] [video]

Salinity, pressure, depth, density.

Lecture 6 - September 28th [ppt] [video]

Pressure effects on temperature and density.

Lecture 7 - September 30th [ppt] [video]

TS Diagrams, water types, and water masses


(1) OC01, Ch. 6.3, 6.4.
(2) K05, Ch. 2, 8(pp 163-183).
(3) Levitus, Warming the world ocean, Science, 2000.   
(3) Levitus, Anthropogenic warming, Science, 2001.
(4) Thompson, Large discontinuity in observed temperature, Nature, 2008.
(5) Curry, Change in freshwater balance, Nature, 2003.

Additional Resources:
Levitus Climatology: a terrific web site that allows exploration of a world ocean climatology. Check your homework against this web page.
ARGO float data

3. Anthropogenic and biologically active tracers- Sophie Clayton

Lecture 4 - September 21st [pdf] [video]

Nonconservative tracers; Oxygen, Phosphate, AOU, Preformed Phosphate

Lecture 5 - September 23rd [pdf] [video]

Transient and anthropogenic tracers; CFCs, tritium


(1) OC01, Ch. 6.5.
(2) OC89, Ch. 2.1 - 2.4.
(3) Gruber, N and J. Sarmiento, 2002, 'Large Scale Biogeochemical-Physical Interactions', Sections 1 and 2. 
(4) Willey, Global chlorfluorocarbon inventory, Geophys Res Lett, 2004.
(5) Behrenfeld, Climate-driven trends in productivity, Nature, 2006. 
(6) Doney, Plankton in a warmer world, Nature, 2006.
(7) Kortzinger, The ocean takes a breath, Science, 2004.

(8) Sarmiento, High-latitude controls of thermocline nutrients, Nature, 2004.

4. Air-Sea Interaction-Young-Oh Kwon

Lecture 8 - October 5th [ppt] [video]

a. Radiative Balance

b. Meridional Heat Transport - Ocean and Atmosphere

Lecture 9 - October 7th [ppt] [video]

c. Mechanisms of heat transport

d.Meridional Heat Transport by the ocean

Lecture 10 - October 12th [ppt] [video]

e. Air-Sea flux climatologies and air-sea flux measurements

f. Observing and mapping heat fluxes at the ocean surface

Lecture 11 - October 14th [ppt] [video]

g. Observing and mapping heat fluxes 

h. The hydrologic cycle


(1) OC01, Ch. 1, 2.1, 2.2, 6.1, 6.2, 6.6.

(2) K05, Ch. 3.

(3) Barnett, Penetration of human-induced warming, Science, 2005.

(4) Stocker, Water cycle shifts gear, Nature, 2005

(5) Quadfasel, Atlantic heat conveyor slows. Nature, 2005.

(6) Antonov. Thermosteric sea-level rise. Geophys Res Lett, 2005.

(7) Munk. Ocean Freshening sea-level rising, Science, 2003.


5. Mid-term Exam - October 19th

Exam & Solutions [pdf]

6. Conservation Equations and Transport Processes of the Ocean Circulation - Fiamma Straneo

Lecture 13 - October 21st [ppt] [video]

a. Conservation Equations - conservative/non-conservative tracers
b. Differential, Integral Form - conservation of mass, heat and salt

Lecture 14 - October 26th [ppt] [video]

a. Conservation of salt
b. Transport Processes in the ocean: eddy/mean
c. Diffusion and Eddy Diffusivity

Lecture 15 - October 28th [ppt] [video]

a. Stirring/Mixing
b. Advection and Diffusion
c. Eddy Diffusivities
d. Lagrangian instruments and tracers
e. Vertical/Horizontal Diffusivities


(1) OC01, 6.1, 6.2.
(2) K05, Ch. 4.
(3) Lavender, Subpolar gyre by direct mesurements, Nature, 2001.

(4) Bower, Interior paths of meriodional overturning circulation. Nature, 2009.


7. Momentum balances, geostrophy and the large scale circulation of the upper ocean - Fiamma Straneo

Lecture 16 - November 2nd [ppt] [video]

a. Equations of motion: F=ma
b. inertial/non-inertial reference frames
c. centrifugal and Coriolis accelerations
d. Impact of the Coriolis Force

Lecture 17 - November 4th [ppt] [video]

e. The hydrostatic pressure field.
f. Geostrophy and thermal wind.
g. Barotropic and baroclinic phenomenon and reference level evaluation.
h. Dynamic height and circulation patterns inferred from geostrophy and hydrography.

Lecture 18- November 9th [ppt] [video]

i. Geostrophy and thermal wind.
j. Dynamic Method
k. Steric Effect
l. Sea-Level Rise

(1) OC01, 3.3.
(2) K05, Ch. 5 and 6 (pp 108-122).
(3) Kerr, Science, 2004,
(4) Hakkinen and Rhines, Decline of subpolar NA circulation, Science, 2004,
(5) Lozier, Spatial pattern of heat content change. Science, 2008.

Additional Resources:
Price, A Coriolis tutorial, 2010. For those who are obsessed with the Coriolis force.


8. Wind-driven Circulation - Fiamma Straneo
Lecture 19- November 16th [ppt] [video]
a. Wind Stress as a frictional term
b. Ekman Transport
c. Coastal Upwelling/Downwelling

Lecture 20- November 18th [ppt] [video]
d. Ekman divergence
e. Sverdrup Transport
f. wind-driven gyres

Lecture 21- November 30th [ppt] [video]
g. Wind-driven gyres and their boundary currents.

Lecture 22 - December 2nd [ppt] [video]
h. The Southern Ocean
i. Eastern boundary currents & other currents


(1) OC01, Ch. 2.1, 3.1, 4.
(2) K05, Ch. 6(122-135), Ch. 7.
(3) Bryden, Changing THC, Nature, 2005.
(4) Cunningham, Temporal variability of the MOC, Science, 2007.
(5) Chavez, Anchovies to sardines, Science, 2003 

(7) McGillicuddy, Eddy/Wind Interactions and Plankton Bloom. Science, 2007.

(8) Mahadevan, Comment on McGillicuddy et al., Science, 2008.

Additional Resources:



9. Project final presentation - November 23rd

10. Reserve/Review/Special topic - December 7th

11. End of Term Exam - December 9th
Final Exam

Last updated: September 22, 2010

whoi logo

Copyright ©2007 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, All Rights Reserved, Privacy Policy.
Problems or questions about the site, please contact