Oceanography in the 21st Century - An Online Textbook
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What's New in Oceanography?

  1. Oceanography is becoming much more closely integrated into earth-system science. Many scientists are now trying to understand the role of the ocean in weather, climate, and global change.
  2. Oceanographers are making more and more use of remote sensing systems, including: satellites, drifters, remotely operated vehicles, autonomous undersea vehicles, and subsea observing systems.
  3. Computers and numerical modeling are essential to most of oceanography.

    A subtle, but pervasive achievement of biological oceanography is that modelling has become a mainstream activity: it permeates so much of our work that graduate students in the discipline assume it is integral to biological oceanography. Modeling was at one time an esoteric craft practiced by a gifted few; now it is the norm. Today's biological oceanography student is more likely to have a model than a microscope.
    From Barber and Hilting (2000), page 19.

  4. Most biological oceanographers are more interested in microbes, especially micro, nano, and pico plankton, than larger organisms.
What's In
What's Out
Dynamic, interacting systems Static, separate systems

Earth-system science

Hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere

Life creates niches Life lives in niches
Microbes Plants and animals
Living earth formed by life Inanimate earth indifferent to life
ROV, AUV, robotic satellites People on ships and in space
Subsea observing systems Deep submersibles
Computer modeling Mathematical calculations by hand
Climate change Static, unchanging climate

Barber, R. T. and A. K. Hilting (2000). Achievements in biological oceanography. In: 50 Years of Ocean Discovery. Ocean Studies Board, Washington DC, National Academy Press: 11--21.

Revised on: 3 August, 2009

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