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Physical Oceanography
Homework Set 1
Due 27 January 2004

Late homework will cost 15 points per week or part of a week it is late


The goal of this assignment is to give you practice in reading maps, calculating distances from maps. and learning about some oceanic features.

  1. Oceanography uses the International System of units, commonly called the metric system, but English maritime units, nautical miles, and nautical miles per hour (knots), are commonly used, hence it is useful to at least know about the units and how to convert among them.
    • What is Earth's equatorial radius? Give the answer in kilometers, nautical miles, and statute miles.
    • What is Earth's equatorial circumference? Give the answer in kilometers, nautical miles, and statute miles.
    • Assume Earth is a sphere with a radius equal to the equatorial radius.
      • How many kilometers per degree of latitude? How many nautical miles?
      • How many kilometers per degree of longitude at 60° N? How many nautical mile
  2. Later in the course, we will studyEl Niñoin the Pacific. It helps if we have a good idea of the size of the equatorial Pacific.
    • What is the width of the Pacific (in degrees of longitude) along the equator?
    • Where did you get your information?
    • How accurate is your information?
    • How do you know the information is accurate? I am looking for an answer with an accuracy of about one degree (111 km).
    • Airplanes flying nonstop from Los Angeles to Tokyo go almost north from Los Angeles. Assuming there are no air-traffic control reasons, why do they go north?

  3. Using an atlas, determine the typical maximum widths of three wide continental shelves. By width I mean the distance from the shore to the outer edge of the shelf along a line perpendicular to the coast.
    • Where are the shelves?
    • What is the name of the shelf or sea?
    • What is the typical width?

  4. You are asked to determine if the average wave height in the Gulf of Mexico in January has increased in the past decade. You go online and find an archive at the Texas Coastal Ocean Observing Network. (To answer this question, you do not need to actually go to the site). It has measurements of wave height made by instruments along and just off shore of the Texas coast going back ten years.
    • Comment on the accuracy and usefulness of any conclusions you can draw from this data set.

  5. You are asked to help develop a global, numerical, model of the ocean's circulation. The model requires oceanic depths every 0.25° of latitude and longitude.
    • What data set is appropriate, and why?
    • Please contrast your recommended data set with at least one other possible data set.

Revised on: 5 September, 2004

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