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Physical Oceanography

Head of the Module Pascal Rivière (Associate Professor, 37th section)
Type Compulsory
Number of hours 36
Lecturers UBO: Pascal Rivière
Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will have:

  • Studied and understood the scientific literature on the subject of the role of physical processes in the ocean on marine organisms and the associated biogeochemical fluxes.
  • Developed reasoning and approaches in marine biology that take into account the complexity and variability of the environment.
Aims Acquisition of the fundamentals of physical oceanography, allowing the students in marine biology to understand the coupling between physics and biogeochemistry. This module deals with the basics of descriptive and dynamic physical oceanography. Emphasis is placed on understanding the physical processes in the ocean and their potential impact on biology. The concepts of flow, advection and diffusion are notably developed, with their associated equations, as well as the notion of ‘scaling’, in order to allow the analysis of the different mechanisms involved in the coupling between physics and biogeochemistry on spatio-temporal scales. The functioning of surface layers and waves is discussed, as well as their role on biogeochemistry via applications to real-life examples.

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Chapter 2 - Principal Physical Characteristics of the Ocean

Chapter 3 - Equations of Motion: Flow, Advection - Diffusion

Chapter 4 - Scaling - Hydrostatic and Geostrophic Equilibria

Chapter 5 - Turbulence - Mixed Layer and Ekman Layer

Chapter 6 - Mass Balance of Salt and Heat in the Ocean

Chapter 7 - General Circulation of the Ocean and Water Masses

Chapter 8 - Waves - Tides - Estuaries

Chapter 9 - Examples of Biological-Physical Interactions

Teaching methods Lectures followed by tutorials for the direct application of the concepts developed in class. The exercises are for the most part taken from ecology and marine biogeochemistry (phytoplankton, larvae, pollutants, radioactive tracers, coral reefs, etc.).
Références bibliographiques

- The Open University Course : Ocean Circulation. - The Open University Course : Seawater: Its Composition, Properties and Behaviour. - The Open University Course : Waves, Tides and Shallow-Water Processes. - Introduction to Physical Oceanography, Robert Stewart, Texas A&M University

- Descriptive Physical Oceanography: An Introduction (Pickard & Emery).  - Introductory Dynamical Oceanography. (S.Pond & G.L.Picard). - The Sea, Vol 12 ( notably the introduction available on Internet:

- A First Course in Turbulence. H.Tennekes & J.L.Lumley (MIT Press) essentially for the introduction to the notion of scaling.  - Dynamics of Marine Ecosystems (Biological-Physical Interactions in the Ocean) (Mann & Lazier)