Skip to content

New text on coastal oceanography, by PO Senior Scientist Emeritus Ken Brink


Ken Brink, PO Senior Scientist Emeritus, recently published Physical Oceanography of the Continental Shelf, a graduate-level text. The book focuses on the dynamics of ocean currents in waters deeper than about 3 m and shallower than about 1000 m. This is a particularly important part of the ocean because of its high biological activity and its concentrated exposure to human presence, among other phenomena. Despite the importance of this region, a comprehensive volume of this sort has not been published since WHOI’s Gabe Csanady published Circulation in the Coastal Ocean during the 1980s.

The content builds on Ken’s Joint Program teaching experience. Topics treated include turbulent boundary layers, wind-driven upwelling, coastal-trapped waves, tides, buoyancy currents, instabilities and coupling with the deeper ocean. In each case, the underlying dynamics are discussed in light of ocean observations. Along the way, explanations are given for why winds off California drive currents off Oregon, why tides on the shelf can be so energetic, and the effects that make shelf currents so different than those in the deep open ocean.

The book is published by Princeton University Press, both as a hard copy and electronically. For those buying the book at the PUP website , use discount code BRINK30. It can also be purchased from other online merchants.

Ken Brink arrived at WHOI in 1980 and has been here ever since, even though he nominally retired in 2015. His research embraces observational, theoretical and numerical approaches. He has served as president of the Oceanography Society (1998-2000) and as chair of the National Academy’s Ocean Studies Board (1996-2001).