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A Guided Tour Through Physical Oceanography

Abstract : This course deals with the aspects of physical oceanography which are important to understand the dynamics and role of the ocean in the climate system of our planet earth. There are outstanding and very comprehensive books on the dynamics of the worlds ocean, and the purpose of this "Guided Tour Through Physical Oceanography" is not to rival them, but rather to provide for a concise, self contained and systematic introduction to the field, emphasizing the basic questions. While teaching an introductory class of physical oceanography to graduate students, I found no concise introduction to the subject that deals with the matter on an advanced and modern level. By modern I mean oriented ``[...] toward the understanding of physical processes which control the hydrodynamics of oceanic circulation.'' (H. Stommel, The Gulfstream, 1958). More precisely, when considering such physical process we first assume that such process can be modeled by the Navier-Stokes equations, an assumption that is surely satisfied to a very high degree of accuracy. We then proceed in four steps: (i) formulate assumptions about the process that simplify the problem; (ii) use these assumptions to derive simplified (mathematical) models; (iii) study the thus obtained simplified models; and (iv) compare the results to observations (if available) to validate or reject the results. If the results have to be rejected when confronted with observations, laboratory experiments or results from more complete models, we have to formulate new assumptions, that is, restart with (i). It is the first point, the choice of the important assumptions which is key to scientific progress and asks for a deep scientific insight.
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Contributor : Achim Wirth <>
Submitted on : Friday, September 4, 2015 - 9:46:49 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, November 19, 2020 - 3:54:11 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Saturday, December 5, 2015 - 11:34:59 AM


  • HAL Id : cel-01134110, version 2


Achim Wirth. A Guided Tour Through Physical Oceanography. Master. Physical Oceanography, France, France. 2015. ⟨cel-01134110v2⟩



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