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Survey of Oceanography
Review Material for Spring 2004


Here are questions I have asked in the past:

  1. Global Warming, the Importance of the Problem: An important question being widely debated these days is: Is the surface of earth warming? There are lots of weather stations on land reporting surface temperature, but 70% of earth is covered by oceans.
    • Roughly how much has the land or the ocean warmed over the past century?
    • What measurements have been used to determine if the sea surface has been warming over the last century? Please state what was measured, and who made the measurements.
    • Do you trust the measurements? Please state your reasons for trusting or not trusting the observations.

  2. Global Warming, Cause and Effect: Why do some scientists think that earth's surface temperature will be 2°- 4° C warmer in a hundred years?
    • Please state what might cause the increase.
    • Please state how the cause will produce the effect (warming).

  3. Global warming, the Role of the Ocean: How is the ocean involved in global warming?
    • What is the importance of deep circulation in the ocean? There are at least two major influences.
    • How do oceanic processes influence earth's carbon budget (the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere)?
    • How do oceanic processes lead to a warm Europe?

  4. Global Warming, Past History: What do we know about earth's surface temperature over the past 1,000 years?
    • Please variable was measured to obtain information about temperature.
    • Please state how the measurement is related to temperature.

  5. Global Warming, the Role of the Ocean: The ocean involved in global warming.
    • Why does Wally Broeker expect global warming might push the world into the next ice age?
    • In answering a) please explain what process(es) in the ocean is involved, and how warming will influence the process(es).
    • What evidence do we have that Broecker is right?

  6. Global warming, Policy: How will governments solve the problem of global warming?
    • Is there any international agreement on what to do? What has been agreed?
    • What measures might help reduce the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere?
    • What are some important arguments against taking steps to reduce CO2 emissions?

  7. Global Warming, the Influence of Currents: Ocean currents redistribute heat throughout the oceans.
    • How are currents measured? Please list the important ways we can obtain global maps of currents.
    • How do satellite altimeters produce maps of currents? What do they measure, and how is the measurement related to currents? What type of currents do they measure?

  8. El Niño: Why isEl Niñoimportant? After all, is it just anchovies off Peru?
    • Pretend your are writing a letter to a friend. Explain in a few paragraphs the cycle of events in a typicalEl Niño.
    • Now explain whyEl Niñois important. Why might your friend care whether or notEl Niñowill return next winter?

  9. El Niño:El Niñois important because of the teleconnections.
    • Why is weather in various parts of the world related to events in the equatorial Pacific?
    • What are a few of the important teleconnections?

  10. Fisheries: The number of fish in the ocean varies from region to region. The populations are not uniformly distributed.
    • Where are fish most common?
    • What biological factors influence the distribution of fish?
    • What physical factors influence the distribution of fish? Please list the physical processes that influence the distribution, and the why these processes are found in specific regions.

  11. Fisheries: Many experts state that overfishing is an example of the "tragedy of the commons".
    • What is meant by this phrase?
    • How does it apply to fisheries?
    • What can the state of Texas do to mitigate the tragedy of the commons for the shrimp industry?

  12. Coasts: Coasts continually evolve.
    • Please describe the seasonal cycle of coasts along a barrier island or sandy coast such as Cape Cod.
    • What are the dominant processes causing changes of the physical structure of coasts?
    • What is the dominant result of man-made structures on beaches?

  13. Fisheries and Weather: Fisheries are not uniformly distributed in the ocean. Some areas have far more fish than others.
    • In what geographic areas are fish common?
    • How do winds influence local fisheries?

Revised on: 5 September, 2004

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