Top of Page
Skip main navigation

Introduction to Physical Oceanography Online

Course Numbers: OCOR - 5608

This course is intended to give students insight to how wind, radiation, gravity, friction, and the Earth's rotation determine the ocean's temperature and salinity patterns and currents. Some important processes we will study include heat budget of the oceans, exchange of heat with the atmosphere and the role of the ocean in climate, surface mixed layer, waves in the ocean, geostrophy, Ekman transport, Rossby waves. Students will learn how to explain physical features of the ocean ranging from microscopic turbulence to global circulation.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  1. calculate Coriolis parameter, Ekman boundary layer depth, and Brunt-Vaisala frequency;
  2. explain intensification of the western boundary current;
  3. identify costal upwelling areas on satellite images of sea surface temperature and color;
  4. identify different water masses and their sources from global distributions of temperature and salinity;
  5. interpret tidal sea level record;
  6. write a report on a Physical Oceanography topic.


A. Colling. 2001. Ocean Circulation (Second Edition).  The Open University Course Team.

J Wright et al. 2000. Waves, Tides and Shallow-Water Processes (Second Edition). The Open University Course Team.

Prerequisites: Recommend Algebra & Physics

Fall 2014 Syllabus

Oceanography Library Course Guide

Return to top of page