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Introduction to Physical Oceanography
Course Schedule for Fall 2008


This is a general outline of the material that will be discussed each day, and we will probably deviate from it as the course progresses. It is meant to be an overview of the topics to be discussed in roughly the order they will be discussed. Some topics may take more or less time than listed.


August 25, 2008 - A Voyage of Discovery

August 27, 2008 - The Historical Setting I

August 29, 2008 - The Physical Setting I

September 1, 2008 - The Physical Setting II

September 3, 2008 - Atmospheric Influences

Homework 1 Due

September 5, 2008 - The Oceanic Heat Budget I

September 8, 2008 - The Oceanic Heat Budget II

Maps of terms in the heat budget of the ocean can be obtained from the Live Access to the National Virtual Ocean Data System maintained by the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. For example, select the Esbensen-Kushnir Heat Budget Climatology.

September 10, 2008 - Surface Temperature, Salinity, and Density of Sea Water I

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 9 MByte MP-3 File recorded by the built-in MacBook Pro microphone.

Homework 2 Due

September 12, 2008 - Surface Temperature, Salinity, and Density of Sea Water II

September 15, 2008 - Role of Ocean in North American Drought

The heat and water vapor released from the ocean due to solar heating helps drive the atmospheric circulation. The circulation carries some of the vapor over land where it condenses as rain. The ocean-tmosphere system has many feedback mechanisms and multiple semi-stable modes, some of which lead to drought.

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 5 MByte MP-3 File recorded by an Apple iSight microphone.

September 17, 2008 - Films Showing Our Best Visualization of the Ocean's Circulation

Temperature, salinity and currents in the ocean from eddy-resolving numerical model. Download and view:
1) Simulation of tropical sea-surface temperature in the Pacific from the Earth Simulator.
2) Additional images from the Virtual Atmosphere and Ocean in the Earth Simulator.

earthsimulator computer, Japan
The Earth Simulator computer at the Japanese Marine Science and Technology Agency JAMSTEC, Yokohama, Japan.

3) Simulation of sea-surface temperature in the Gulf Stream from the Navy Layered Ocean Model 1/16° global model.
4) Simulation of sea-surface heights and currents in the Gulf of Mexico from the Navy Layered Ocean Model 1/16° global model.
5) Simulation of drifter positions in the Pacific.

Homework 3 Due

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 12 MByte MP-3 File recorded by an Apple iSight.

September 19, 2008 - Equations of Motion I

Read: The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete by Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine. About data mining in the petabyte age.

At the petabyte scale, information is not a matter of simple three- and four-dimensional taxonomy and order but of dimensionally agnostic statistics. It calls for an entirely different approach, one that requires us to lose the tether of data as something that can be visualized in its totality. It forces us to view data mathematically first and establish a context for it later.

Scientists are trained to recognize that correlation is not causation, that no conclusions should be drawn simply on the basis of correlation between X and Y (it could just be a coincidence). Instead, you must understand the underlying mechanisms that connect the two. Once you have a model, you can connect the data sets with confidence. Data without a model is just noise.

There is now a better way. Petabytes allow us to say: "Correlation is enough." We can stop looking for models. We can analyze the data without hypotheses about what it might show. We can throw the numbers into the biggest computing clusters the world has ever seen and let statistical algorithms find patterns where science cannot.

From Chris Anderson The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete.

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 12 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

September 22, 2008 - Quiz 1

September 24, 2008 - Equations of Motion II

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 9.7 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

September 26, 2008 - Equations of Motion with Viscosity I

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 11.4 MByte MP-3 File recorded bya Blue Microphone Snowflake.

September 29, 2008 - Equations of Motion with Viscosity II

For more information on double diffusion and salt fingering, see a description of salt fingering in the ocean by Bill Merryfield at the Institute for Ocean Sciences, Canada.

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 11.3 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

October 1, 2008 -Response of the Upper Ocean to Winds I

Homework 4 Due

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 11.5 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

October 3, 2008 - Response of the Upper Ocean to Winds II

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 11.7 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

October 6, 2008 - Geostrophic Currents I

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 11.8 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

October 8, 2008 - Geostrophic Currents II

Homework 5 Due

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 11.8 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

October 10, 2008 - Measurement of Ocean Currents

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 12 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

October 13, 2008 - Wind Driven Ocean Circulation I

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 8.9 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

October 15, 2008 - Wind Driven Ocean Circulation II and Vorticity

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 12.8 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

Homework 6 Due

October 17, 2008 - Vorticity in the Ocean

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 10.6 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

October 20, 2008 - Quiz 2

October 22, 2008 - Wind Driven Ocean Circulation in the North Atlantic

  • Measured currents in the North Atlantic
  • The Gulf Stream and Gulf Stream recirculation system
  • Baroclinic instability

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 11.3 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

October 24, 2008 - Deep circulation in the ocean I

No lecture recorded today. Audacity unexpectedly quit at the end of the lecture.

October 27, 2008 - Deep circulation in the ocean II

Read more about the deep circulation at Planet Water, including the role of deep eddies and new information about the role of the Arctic.

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 12 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

October 29, 2008 - Equatorial Processes I

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 11.3 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

October 31, 2008 - Equatorial Processes II

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 9.5 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

November 3, 2008 - Numerical Models I

Additional Reading: You may wish to look at a high-resolution model of the Gulf Stream developed by Matt O'Keefe at the Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Minnesota and Prof. Rainer Bleck at the Department of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami.

Bob Leben and his team at the University of Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research are now producing real-time maps of the circulation in the Gulf of Mexico. Their Real-Time Data for Gulf of Mexico web page gives the output of their calculations.

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 10.9 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

November 5, 2008 - Numerical models II

Read about test of SLOSH Model for Hurricane Jeanne in Florida in 2004.

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 9.5 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

Homework 7 Due

November 7, 2008 - Ocean Waves I

November 10, 2008 - No Class Today

November 12, 2008 - No Class Today

November 14, 2008 - No Class Today

November 17, 2008 - Ocean Waves II

NOAA wavewatch NOAA has a tutorial on how they forecast waves.

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 10.7 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

November 19, 2008 - Film

  • Film: Portrait of a Coast. This is a beautiful film that follows the seasonal cycle of a New England coast noting problems caused by coastal development.
  • While watching the film try to remember:
    • Why are beaches important?
    • What is the seasonal cycle of the beach? When is it highest, when lowest?
    • What processes influence the beach?
    • How does coastal development lead to problems?
    • What are the problems?

    Homework 8 Due

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 12.0 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

November 21, 2008 - Coastal Processes I

Additional Reading

For information on a platform to produce power from waves, see the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center site. They have developed Mighty Whale, a moored barge that converts wave power to electricity while reducing wave heights. The device serves as a breakwater and power station.

National Geographic Magazine has an interesting article on surfing monster waves at Jaws, Maui Hawaii. A full description of what causes the monster waves, including information on calculating wave refraction and breaking waves at Jaws is provided by Robert A. Dalrymple at the University of Delaware.

See the on-line tutorial on tsunamis maintained by the University of Washington and NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. The NOAA Lab's pages provide more information. The Pacific Tsunami Museum has a great on-line collection of photographs of tsunamis coming ashore in Hawaii and the damage they did.

Listen to the Lecture: Click here to download 10.9 MByte MP-3 File recorded by a Blue Microphone Snowflake.

November 24, 2008 - Tides

Get tidal data from NOAA's TidesOnline, including recent plots of tide data from selected ports, and historical data..

Additional Reading: See the on-line tutorial on the Theory of Tides, by NOAA, NOAA Tide Gauges by the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, and Misconceptions About Tides by Donald E. Simanek.

November 26, 2008 - Optional Quiz 3

November 28, 2008 -Thanksgiving Holiday

December 1, 2008 - No Class Today

Revised on: 21 November, 2008

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