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 GEOL1520, Spring 2021

Image from Siedler et al. 2001.

GEOL1520. Ocean Circulation and Climate

Or, Notions for the Motions of the Oceans.
Examines physical characteristics, processes, and dynamics of the global ocean to understand circulation patterns and how they relate to ocean biology, chemistry, and climate change. Assignments address ocean's role in the climate system; ocean observations and models; the origin, distribution, and dynamics of large-scale ocean circulation and water masses; energy and freshwater budgets; and variability of the coupled system on seasonal to centennial timescales e.g. El NiƱo. Intended for geological and physical sciences undergraduate and graduate students with quantitative skills and an interest in oceans, climate, paleoclimate. Pre-requisite: GEOL 0250, GEOL 0350, PHYS 0720, or MATH 0180. Offered alternate years, previously offered as GEOL1100.

Baylor taught this class in Spring 2021, Spring 2019, Spring 2017, Spring 2015, Spring 2013.

Proceedings volumes Spring 2019, Spring 2017, Spring 2015, Spring 2013. Spring 2010. Spring 2008. Spring 2007.

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

Animation from

Web Resources and Texts

  1. Assignment1
  2. Assignment2
  3. Assignment3
  4. Assignment4
  5. Paper writing guidelines, the Science of Scientific Writing
  6. , and Orwell's Politics and the English Language
  7. Peer reviewing guidelines
  8. Response to peer reviews guidelines
  9. Reading assignment guidelines
  10. Matlab guidelines
  11. Math Methods Notes
  12. Old ECCO guidelines, or up-to-date descriptions in Forget et al. (2015) and Forget et al. (2016)
  13. Words to Pages
    This is an automated article length calculator. All assignments for this class must pass the GRL length calculation of 12 or fewer publication units (1 PU=500 words or 1 figure or 1 table)
  14. Science Center Advising
  15. Writing Center

Main Textbooks

  1. Wunsch, Modern Observational Physical Oceanography.
  2. Siedler, Griffies, Gould, & Church, Ocean Circulation and Climate: A 21st Century Perspective
  3. Colling, Ocean Circulation, 2nd Ed.. OC for short above, On-campus direct

Secondary Online Textbooks

  1. Vallis, Atmospheric and Oceanic Fluid Dynamics.
  2. Talley, Pickard, Emery, & Swift, Descriptive Physical Oceanography, 6th Ed. DPO for short above.
  3. Robert H. Stewart's Introduction to Physical Oceanography
    Web-distributed basic but comprehensive textbook.
  4. Emery \& Thomson's Data Analysis Methods in Physical Oceanography, extensive methods book.
  5. Holthuijsen's Waves in Oceanic and Coastal Waters. Everything you wanted to know about waves at the beach.
  6. Chapman & Rizzoli, Wave Motions in the Ocean: Myrl's View A beautiful, short, mathematical treatment of ocean waves.
  7. Tomczak and Godfrey's Regional Oceanography: An Introduction
    Tomczak and Godfrey's nice descriptive textbook.
  8. Tchernia's Descriptive Regional Oceanography.
    An equation-free descriptive text.
  9. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (AR5, WGI), 2013: Physical Science Summary, and Summary for Policymakers

The Competition

  1. Lynne Talley and Myrl Henderschott's SIO 210: Intro to Physical Oceanography
    A similar class at Scripps from Fall, 2008.
  2. Henderschott, Winant, Send, & MacKinnon SIO 210: Intro to Physical Oceanography
    A similar class 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. ECCOv4r2 LatLon Subdomain Average
  3. ECCOv4r2 LatLon Subdomain Climatology
  4. ECCOv4r2 LatLon Subdomain Monthly State Estimate
  5. ECCOv4r2 Interpolated Average
  6. ECCOv4r2 Interpolated Climatology
  7. ECCOv4r2 Interpolated Monthly State Estimate
  8. Profile data assimilated into ECCOv4r2
  9. 8 Ocean Reanalysis Products, side-by-side
  10. Global Multi-Archive Current Meter Database
  11. NASA Earth Observations
  12. National Climate Data Center NOMADS Archive
  13. A list of available ocean reanalysis products
  14. Ecological Marine Unit Explorer
  15. CLIVAR & Carbon Hydrographic Data Office
  16. A Discussion Board with lots of links to datasets.
  17. Some NASA Data.
  18. National Oceanographic Data Service
  19. Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (USGODAE)
  20. NOAA Physical Sciences Division (PSD)
  21. International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (iCOADS)
  22. Southampton NOCS Flux Datasets (Winds, Heat Fluxes, etc.)
  23. Ocean Watch Live Access Server: easy satellite data access.
  24. PO.DAAC Home: another easy satellite data access.
  25. Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO)
  26. International Research Institute for Climate and Society/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (IRI/LDEO)
  27. NOAA National Operational Model Archive and Distribution System (NOMADS)
  28. EPIC
  29. World Ocean Circulation Experiment
  30. ARGO array data
  31. ARGO data repository
  32. GODAE Live Access data server (use to map ARGO Data)
  33. ARGO data browser (use for individual float measurements)
  34. AVISO SSH Datasets
  35. AVISO Gridded Data Extraction Tool
  36. Global Drifter Program
  37. Ice-Tethered Profiler Data
  38. SCOW Wind Climatology
  39. The NOAA National Operational Model Archive and Distribution System (NOMADS)

ECCO Data Assimilating Models

  1. ECCOv4
  2. ECCO2

Other Models

  1. PCMDI IPCC (CMIP3 and CMIP5) runs
  2. Some simple matlab programs I wrote. See especially inertial oscillator.
  3. Play SimEarth in your Browser!


  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