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 GEOL1100, Spring 2013

Image from Siedler et al. 2001.

Global Physical/Descriptive Oceanography

Or, Notions for the Motions of the Oceans. Brown Catalog Link
Examines physical characteristics, processes, and dynamics of the global ocean to understand circulation patterns and how they relate to ocean chemistry and large scale climate change. Assignments address origin and distribution of water masses, heat and water budgets, thermohaline and widn-driven circulation systems, dynamics of the oceanic conveyor belt, and El Nino.

You can access the syllabus, proceedings, class calendar, notes, and reading

Class Meetings and Notes

Class meets Tuesday and Thursday 1-2:20 in GeoChem 029. All assignments due by classtime on day noted. Office Hours are by appointment (just check my availability and request a time). The calendar of lectures with slides and links is below. It is also available as a public subscription iCalendar called "GEOL 1100: Physical Oceanography" at

Week Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Reading
1 1/24: Syllabus Exploration
Where it all began: MODE-I (1970-1976) Quicktime
2 1/29: What & How to Observe
1/31: Equations, Scaling, Nondimensionals, Eulerian vs. Lagrangian
HW #1 Due
DPO Chps 1-2, 6
3 2/5: Seawater Properties: Heat Capacity, Maritime vs. Continental, Thermodynamics, Potential T & Density, Chemistry 2/7: Typical Distributions
HW #2 Due
Paper #1 Plans Due
DPO Chps 3,4
OC, Chps 1,2.
4 2/12: Integrated Budgets: Estuaries, Finite Volumes, Boussinesq Equations 2/14: Global Budgets, Monsoon
HW #3 Due
DPO 4,5
OC, Chps 1,2.
5 2/19: NO CLASS--Brown Holiday 2/21: Coriolis, Rossby Number, Taylor-Proudman, and Inertial Oscillations DPO Chps 7, (S7 for more detail)
OC, Chps 3.
6 2/26: Coriolis and Friction: The Ekman Layer
Paper #1 First Submission Due
2/28: Coriolis and Pressure: Geostrophy DPO Chps 7, (S7 for more detail)
OC, Chps 3.
7 3/5: Shallow Water Equations
Paper #1 Reviews Due
3/7: Vortex Stretching and Sverdrup DPO Chps 7, (S7 for more detail)
OC, Chps 4.
8 3/12: Gyres by Pressure, WBC
Paper #1 Revisions Due
3/14: Thermal Wind
HW #4 Due
Paper #2 Plans Due
DPO Chps 7, (S7 for more detail)
OC, Chps 4.
9 3/19: A. Lynch Lectures
Ekman Upwelling: Coastal & Tropical, Bjerknes Feedback
3/21: A. Lynch Lectures
Eastern Boundary Currents
DPO Chps 7, (S7 for more detail)
OC, Chps 4,5.1-5.2.
11 4/2: Intro to the MOC
Paper #2 First Submission Due
4/4: Thermocline
DPO Chps 14
OC, Chps 6.
12 Baylor at EGU--No Class
Paper #2 First Reviews Due
Baylor at EGU--No Class Baylor at EGU--No Class Baylor at EGU--No Class
13 4/16: A Summary: The Ocean Climate
4/18: Wave Basics and Geostrophic Adjustment
Paper #2 Revisions Due
DPO Chps 8
14 4/23: Surface and Internal Gravity Waves

HW #5 Due
Paper #3 Plans Due
4/25: Kelvin Waves and Tides DPO Chps 8
15 4/30: Reading Period Rossby Waves and Eddies Reading Period 5/2: Reading Period ENSO Reading Period
OC, Chps 5.3-5.4.
16 5/7: Reading Period
Paper #3 First Submission Due
Paper #3 Reviews Due (by Sunday 5pm)
Paper #3 Revisions Due (by Friday 5pm)

Web Resources and Texts

  1. Paper writing guidelines, the Science of Scientific Writing
  2. , and Orwell's Politics and the English Language
  3. Peer reviewing guidelines.
  4. Reading assignment guidelines.
  5. Matlab guidelines.
  6. ECCO guidelines.
  7. AGU/GRL Article Length Tool
    This is an automated article length calculator for AGU. All assignments for this class must pass the GRL length calculation.
  8. Science Center Advising
  9. Writing Center

Main Textbooks

  1. Talley, Pickard, Emery, & Swift, Descriptive Physical Oceanography, 6th Ed. DPO for short above.
  2. Colling, Ocean Circulation, 2nd Ed.. OC for short above, On-campus direct

Secondary Online Textbooks

  1. Robert H. Stewart's Introduction to Physical Oceanography
    Web-distributed basic but comprehensive textbook.
  2. Tomczak and Godfrey's Regional Oceanography: An Introduction
    Tomczak and Godfrey's nice descriptive textbook.
  3. Tchernia's Descriptive Regional Oceanography.
    An equation-free descriptive text.
  4. Chapman and Malanotte-Rizzoli's Notes on Henderschott's Wave Motions in the Ocean
    A readable and short ocean wave text.
  5. IPCC AR4, 2007: Synthesis Summary, Physical Science Summary, and Chp5: Oceanic Climate Change

The Competition

  1. Lynne Talley and Myrl Henderschott's SIO 210: Intro to Physical Oceanography
    A similar class to ATOC5051 at Scripps from Fall, 2008.
  2. Henderschott, Winant, Send, & MacKinnon SIO 210: Intro to Physical Oceanography
    A similar class to ATOC5051 at Scripps from Fall, 2009.
  3. Lisa Beal's MPO 503 at RSMAS

Additional Fun Reading


  1. Cook, The Three Voyages of Captain James Cook Round the World, Vol. 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3.
  2. Maury, 1860: The Physical Geography of the Sea and Its Meteorology
  3. Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle
  4. Darwin, The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs
  5. Sverdrup, New Land: Four Years in the Arctic Region
  6. Nansen, Farthest North, Vol 1 and Vol 2.
  7. M'Clintock, The Voyage of the Fox in the Arctic Seas
  8. Bowditch, The American Practical Navigator
  9. Philander, Our Affair with El Nino
  10. Emanuel, Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes


  1. Dana, Two Years Before the Mast
  2. Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
  3. Homer, The Odyssey
  4. London, The Sea Wolf
  5. Melville, Moby Dick
  6. Stevenson, Treasure Island
  7. Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea


  1. Hart and Kittelman GFD Lab
  2. John Marshall's (MIT) GFD Lab
  3. National Committee for Fluid Mechanics Films
  4. Ruddick & Hebery Internal Wave Lab Demos
  5. Alistair Fraser's Bad Coriolis, with related Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere movies... Snopes version. Here's how to do it right. (very, very carefully! don't just flush)


  1. The Dataserver for Class Data at
  2. National Climate Data Center NOMADS Archive
  3. A list of available ocean reanalysis products
  4. CLIVAR & Carbon Hydrographic Data Office
  5. A Discussion Board with lots of links to datasets.
  6. Some NASA Data.
  7. National Oceanographic Data Service
  8. Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (USGODAE)
  9. NOAA Physical Sciences Division (PSD)
  10. International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (iCOADS)
  11. Southampton NOCS Flux Datasets (Winds, Heat Fluxes, etc.)
  12. Ocean Watch Live Access Server: easy satellite data access.
  13. PO.DAAC Home: another easy satellite data access.
  14. Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO)
  15. International Research Institute for Climate and Society/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (IRI/LDEO)
  16. NOAA National Operational Model Archive and Distribution System (NOMADS)
  17. EPIC
  18. World Ocean Circulation Experiment
  19. ARGO array data
  20. ARGO data repository
  21. GODAE Live Access data server (use to map ARGO Data)
  22. ARGO data browser (use for individual float measurements)
  23. AVISO SSH Datasets
  24. Global Drifter Program
  25. Ice-Tethered Profiler Data
  26. SCOW Wind Climatology

ECCO Data Assimilating Models

  1. ECCO
  2. ECCO2

Other Models

  1. PCMDI IPCC (CMIP3 and CMIP5) runs
  2. Some simple matlab programs I wrote. See especially inertial oscillator.


  1. Matlab
  2. Ocean Data View
  3. Java Ocean Atlas (Software & Data)
  4. LaTeX
  5. ncBrowse, a java netcdf browser
  6. ncview, a graphical netcdf file browser.
  7. A tool for producing pdf output on PCs/Windows


  1. To What Degree? NSF Climate Change Report
  2. UN Ocean Atlas
  3. NOAA Interactive Global Bathymmetry
  4. LDEO Deep-Sea Sample Repository
  5. Cleon Teunissen's Rotation Physics
  6. GISS Temperature Trends
  7. IPCC Home Site
  8. NOAA/NWS Climate Prediction Center
  9. IRI ENSO Page
  11. NOAA Tsunami Page
  12. MBARI Seafood Watch

Brown Specific Guidelines

  1. Disability Support Services
  2. Academic & Student Conduct Codes, *Note* Prof. Fox-Kemper regards inappropriate cellphone and laptop use as disruptive behavior.
  3. Academic Code