Course Material

Physical Oceanography II (Spring 2019)

Tu & Th, 9.00 to 10.20, S. Mudd 162
Course instructor: Andy Thompson, Office: L+R 224, Office hours: Wednesdays, 3:00-4:00, Fridays 2:30-3:30
Reading: There will be reading assigned for each lecture; textbooks are on reserve at Sherman Fairchild (see syllabus)

Course syllabus

This course will build on material that was covered in ESE131a and bring together diverse aspects of the global ocean circulation in order to provide an overview of how the ocean influences Earth's climate system. In particular, the course will center around the global overturning circulation, which is the primary means by which the ocean takes up heat and carbon from the atmosphere and redistributes it throughout the interior. The class will discuss how various physical processes exert control over the strength and structure of this circulation feature. We will open with a discussion of how ocean energetics and water mass transformation processes can be used to constrain the overturning circulation. We will then use the remainder of the course to time to discuss more specific features of the ocean circulation including: boundary currents, the equatorial circulation, the abyssal circulation, and the circulations of the Southern and Arctic Oceans.

Problem Sets & Worksheets

Activity 1, due April 26
Beaufort Gyre data

Activity 2, due May 20
Overturning code


Topic 1: Ocean energetics

Background reading: Vallis, Chapters 15.2, 15.3

Lecture 1 (Apr. 2): Review of equations of motion

Lecture 2 (Apr. 4): The energetics of horizontal convection
Reading: Wunsch and Ferrari (2004)
Lecture 2 slides

Lecture 3 (Apr. 9): Energetics of an ocean gyre
Reading: Manucharyan et al. (2016)
Lecture 3 slides

Topic 2: Water mass transformation and the residual overturning circulation

Background reading: Walin (1982)

Lecture 4 (Apr. 16): Overview of water mass transformation
Reading: Groeskamp et al. (2019)
Lecture 4 slides

Lecture 5 (Apr. 18); Water mass transformation the overturning circulation
Reading: Gnanadeskidan (1999)
Lecture 5 slides

Lecture 6 (Apr. 23): Overturning circulation pathways
Reading: Gordon (1986) & Watson et al. (2015)
Lecture 6 slides

Topic 3: The ocean surface boundary layer

Lecture 7 (Apr. 25): The ocean submesoscale
Reading: Thomas et al. (2007)
Lecture 7 slides

Lecture 8 (Apr. 30): Upper ocean tracer fluxes
Reading: Omand et al. (2015) and Balwada et al. (2018)

Lecutre 9 (May 2): High latitude mixed layer evolution
Reading: Pellichero et al. (2017)

Topic 4: Equatorial circulation: ENSO and upwelling

Lecture 10 (May 7): ENSO and equatorial waves
Guest lecture (G. Manucharyan)

Lecture 11 (May 9): Discussion of ENSO review article
Reading: Timmerman et al. (2018)

Topic 5: The ocean's abyssal circulation

Lecture 12 (May 14): Classical theories of the abyssal circulation
Reading: Stommel and Arons (1959)
Lecture 12 slides

Lecture 13 (May 16): Wave-driven abyssal mixing
Reading: MacKinnon et al. (2017)

Lecture 14 (May 21): Abyssal boundary layers
Reading: Bower et al. (2009) and Callies and Ferrari (2018)
Lecture 14 slides

Topic 6: High latitude oceans

Lecture 15 (May 23): The momentum budget of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current
Reading: Olbers et al. (2004)

Lecture 16 (May 28): Stirring and mixing in the Southern and Arctic Oceans
Reading: TBA

Lecture 17 (May 30): The overturning circulation of the Southern and Arctic Oceans
Reading: Marshall and Speer (2012) and Abernathey et al. (2016)

Lecture 18: Course review

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