Oceanography Curriculum Outline

by Prof. William A. Prothero, Dept. of Geological Sciences


 <Curriculum Index><Weekly Assignment Outline>

II. Atmosphere/Ocean/Climate theme

A. Properties of water

1.     How water is special (molecular geometry)

2.     Freezing and boiling points

3.     Heat capacity

4.     Latent heat and transfer of heat through evaporation and condensation

B. Atmosphere and atmospheric circulation

1.     Buoyancy and air density

a.     function of temp, humidity,

2.     Vertical structure. Troposphere, tropopause, etc. Vertical stratification.

3.     Average earth surface temperature and atmospheric heating

4.     Overall circulation pattern, no coriolis effect

5.     Coriolis effect and circulation  (show Coriolis animations)

6.     Quickscat wind animations

7.     Global circulation pattern (data), circulation cells, height of cells.

8.     Wind zones: “roaring 40’s”, trades, doldrums, horse latitudes.

9.     Rainfall and climate zones

10.  Heat transport by the atmosphere

11.  Effect of continents

12.  Monsoons

13.  Island weather

C. Data relevant to atmospheric circulation

1.     Global average temperatures, hotter at equator

2.     Global winds and wind zones

3.     Rainfall

4.     Compare density and pressure changes in vertical and horizontal direction. Get a weather map. It should show that pressure changes in horizontal direction cause much greater motion than pressure changes in vertical direction.

D. Surface circulation

1.     Wind driven

a.     Ekman spiral

b.     Upwelling (now we can explain the cold water in the eastern part of the ocean basins).

2.     Major patterns of surface circulation,

a.     ocean basin-wide gyres

b.     Westward intensification

c.     Gulf stream

3.     El Nino, caused by air-sea interaction

E. Ocean structure

Discussion: In this section the ocean will be treated as a “system”. For each of the parameters of interest, there are inflows, outflows, and transport. For example, heat energy can be considered a “constituent” of the ocean. It enters at the surface (mostly) and is carried around by the currents. It loses heat, mostly, to the atmosphere also, through radiation, conduction, and latent heat transfer to th4e atmosphere through evaporation and rainfall.

F. Seawater and its composition

1.     Definition of Salinity

2.     Constituents, major and minor, dissolved gases, nutrients

a.     heat

b.     salts (major constituents)

c.     dissolved gases

d.     nutrients

e.     trace elements

3.     Balance of constituents:

a.     possible sources and sinks

i.      sun

ii.     atmosphere

iii.   rivers

iv.    mid-ocean ridge hot springs

b.     residence time

c.     rivers vs mid-ocean ridge inputs

4.     Transport of constituents

a.     Wind-driven transport

b.     Density transport (vertical)

i.      Relationship between density, temperature, and salinity

c.     Atmospheric transport

i.      evaporation

ii.     rainfall

iii.   airborne, aerosols

G. Deep ocean circulation

1.     Data relevant to deep ocean circulation (we know what the constituents are, so let’s look at some cross-sections and see if we can interpret them).

a.     Temperature

b.     Salinity

c.     Nutrients

d.     dissolved gases

2.     Temperature/Salinity/Density (review)

3.     Shallow mixing due to wind and Ekman spiral.

4.     Deep circulation patterns

a.     Water masses NADW, etc.

b.     speed of deep currents

c.     age of water

5.     Thermal conveyor belt

H. Ocean pollution

1.    Pollution sources

2.    Severity of the problem

3.     Possible solutions

I. Climate

1.     Equilibrium temperature of earth, a balance between incoming and outgoing solar energy

2.     Greenhouse effect

3.     Climate history from ice cores, tree rings, etc.

4.     The climate “system”

5.     Climate feedbacks

a.     positive and negative feedback

b.     daisyworld

6.     Heat transfer from equator to poles: ocean currents vs atmospheric circulation

7.     Carbon cycle and CO2

8.     Global warming

J. Environmental issues and this theme

1.     Understand how the ocean, atmosphere, and human activities might influence environmental systems that affect the welfare of a specific country.

a.     Monsoon

b.     El-Nino

c.     Global warming and greenhouse effect

d.     Ozone depletion

2.     Be able to access and present earth data to address the source and processes involved in environmental phenomena related to ocean and atmosphere processes.

3.     Write a position paper that uses earth data to relate ocean/atmosphere/climate phenomena to the interests of a particular country.

a.     Be able to access country specific data from www sources such as CIA Factbook, CDIAC and CIESIN.

b.     Be able to argue from evidence and use the data to explain or support an understanding of the process being discussed.