701-0478-00L  Introduction to Physical Oceanography

Semester Spring Semester 2015
Lecturers M. Münnich, T. Frölicher, G.‑K. Plattner
Periodicity yearly course
Language of instruction English


Abstract The lecture gives an overview over physical properties, flows and transport phenomena in stratified water bodies (reservoirs, lakes and the oceans). The focus is the oceans, their currents and the role of the seas in the global climate system. Those completing the course are able to interpret basic flow equations and apply them to phenomema.
Objective Students are able to
- apply the basic conservation principles of physics to various bodies of water.
- explain the singularities of various natural flow systems.
- apply closed solutions and simple evaluation procedures to characterise flow and transport.
- present an overview of the mechanical flow properties of environmental flow systems.
- describe the role of the oceans in the global climate system.
Content • Review of governing equations (Navier-Stokes equation, Coriolis force, scaling)
• Waves in Fluids (surface waves, internal waves, Rossby waves)
• Stratification and mixing in lakes and the oceans (molecular diffusion, Reynold decomposition, turbulent transport, turbulent closure, boundary layers)
• Wind-driven ocean currents (Ekman transport, Sverdrub ballance, westerly boundary currents)
• Density-driven ocean currents (thermocline theory, deep water formation)
• Oceans and climate (El Nino, Ice Ages)
Lecture notes In lieu of a script excerpts from publications lecture books are handed out.
Literature • Seawater: Its Composition, Properties and Behaviour (Open University)
• Waves, Tides & Shallow-Water Processes (Open University)
• Ocean Circulation (Open University)
• Atmosphere, Ocean and Climate Dynamics (J. Marshall, A. Plumb)
• Atmosphere-Ocean Dynamics (A.Gill)
Prerequisites / Notice PDFs of the open university books can be obtained free of charge through ScienceDirect.