Course Description

Physical Oceanography (Winter 2017)

MWF, 11.00 to 11.50, L+R 135

Course syllabus

This course is an introduction to Physical Oceanography. The primary focus of the course is on ocean circulation and how it impacts the Earth's climate system. We will begin by considering how we observe and model the ocean. We will then move on a basic overview of key dynamical balances in the ocean and the resulting flows. From there we will develop the theory behind the wind-driven gyre circulation, ocean ventilation and the global meridional overturning circulation.

Problem Sets

Vector Calculus review

Problem set 1
Solutions

Problem set 2
Solutions
Matlab scripts

Problem set 3
Solutions

Problem set 4

Notes

Week 1 notes
Equations of motion
Balanced motions (geostrophy and Ekman layers)
Sverdrup balance & gyre circulations
Ocean forcing and property distributions

Weeks 1 & 2: Physical oceanography basics

Background reading: M&P, Ch. 7.1-7.3

Lecture 1: Introduction Slides
Lecture 2: Pressure and density Slides
Lecture 3: Equation of state and equations of motion Slides
Lecture 4: Rotation
Lecture 5: Geostrophic balance and thermal wind Slides

Weeks 3 & 4: The wind-driven circulation

Background reading: M&P, Ch. 10; (additional reading: Vallis, Ch. 14)

Lecture 6: Ekman layers Slides
Lecture 7: Sverdrup balance Slides (Lectures 7-9)
Lecture 8: Depth-integrated gyre circulation
Lecture 9: Western boundary currents

Weeks 5 & 6: Ocean ventilation

Lecture 10: Surface processes: mixed layers and forcing Slides (Lectures 10-11)
Reading (lectures 10 and 11): Talley, Descriptive Oceanography, Ch. 4

Lecture 11: Water mass formation and distributions
Additional reading: Tomczak (1999)

Lecture 12: The ventilated thermocline Slides
Reading: Vallis, 16.4; Luyten et al. (1983)

Lectures 13 & 14: The Antarctic Circumpolar Current Slides
Reading: Olbers et al. (2004), sections 1-3; Marshall and Speer (2012); Marshall et al. (2017)

Lecture 15: The ACC and the meridional overturning circulation Slides

Lecture 16: Deep and bottom water formation
Reading: Marshall and Schott (1999)

Weeks 7 & 8: Ocean energetics

Reading: Wunsch and Ferrari (2004)

Lecture 17 & 18: Diapycnal mixing and abyssal recipes Slides
Additional reading: Munk (1966), Abyssal recipes

Lecture 19: The ocean energy budget Slides
Additional reading: Vallis 15.1, 15.2; Paparella and Young (2002)

Lecture 20: The deep ocean circulation
Additional reading: Vallis 15.4, 15.5; Stommel and Arons (1959)

Weeks 9 & 10: The overturning circulation

Reading: Kuhlbrodt et al. (2007)
Reading: Gnanadesikan (1999)

Lecture 21: High-latitude water mass transformation Slides
Lecture 22 & 23: The global overturning Slides, (L22); Slides, (L23)

California Institute of Technology  |  Environmental Science & Engineering  |  Web Development: Iryna Chatila