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What is Physical Oceanography

Physical Oceanography
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Assignment Physical Oceanography

Defination of Physical Oceanography:

Physical oceanography is the study of the physical properties and dynamic process of the oceans. For example-the patterns of the heat distribution within the ocean and the geophysics extent of current systems affect climate and weather.

Types: It’s typically divided into four sub- discipline. They are:

  • Physical oceanography (the study of waves ,currents ,tides and ocean energy);
  • Geological oceanography (the study of the sediments, rocks and structure of the seafloor and coastal margins)
  • Chemical Oceanography (the study of the composition and properties of seawater)
  • Biological Oceanography ( the study of marine organisms and their interactions with the ocean)

It is a multidisciplinary subject which aligned to other fields such as atmospheric science, ocean geophysics and engineering. Physical oceanography used to know observations of the oceans and use physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer models and statistics to better understand how the oceans work and make more accurate predictions of how they may change in the future.

People who are interested about oceans and it’s physical elements they can take oceanography as their career. Most require advanced degrees including Ph.D. Related career tittles are:

Chemist                                                                                                 Research assistant
Naval researcher                                                                                   Biologist
Ocean driller                                                                                         Ocean engineer
Public policy writer                                                                             Coastal geologist
Technical editor                                                                                   Aquatic chemist
Hydrologist                                                                                           Climate researcher
Marine biologist                                                                                  College professor
Fisheries scientist                                                                                Environmental planner

Sectors of oceanography: Jobs in oceanography are found in government agencies, private firms and non- profit and academics institutions. Experienced oceanography –the top 75% of the field- earn an average of $99,690 or $47.93 per hour. These figures correspond roughly with those of the U.S statistics for all geologists, earning a medium annual salary of $93,580 or $44,990 as of May 2020.

Physical oceanography covers these topic:

  • ` Tides: Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun and rotation of the Earth. Tide tables can be used for any given local to find the predicted times and amplitude. In 1920, an engineer, named Dexter Cooper came up the idea of  creating power if tides.


  • Waves: The waves allow the wind to transfer its energy to the water’s surface and to make it move. At the surface, waves promote the exchange of gases; CO2 into the oceans and O2 out. Currents and eddies mix the layers of water which would otherwise become stagnant and less conductive to life .There are different types of waves in oceanography. They are:


  • Heats: ocean heat content(OHC) is a term for the energy absorbed by the ocean, Where it is stored for indefinite time periods as internal energy or enthalpy. It responds to long- term changes in cloud albedo, greenhouse gases and other factors in the earth’s energy balance.

Job opportunity in Physical Oceanography:

The vast expanse of the ocean holds a wealth of secrets, and physical oceanographers are the detectives who unlock them. If you’re fascinated by the ocean’s physical properties, movement patterns, and interactions with the atmosphere, then a career in physical oceanography might be your perfect wave to ride. Here’s a breakdown of some potential career paths you can explore:

1. Research Scientist:

  • Conduct research on various aspects of the ocean, including ocean circulation, waves, tides, and interactions with the atmosphere.
  • Analyze data collected from instruments like buoys, satellites, and research vessels.
  • Develop and test models to simulate ocean processes and predict future trends.
  • Write research papers and present findings at conferences.
  • Potential employers include universities, government agencies (like NOAA), and private research institutions.

2. Field Oceanographer:

  • Design and conduct oceanographic field expeditions, collecting data using specialized equipment like conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) profilers, current meters, and sediment samplers.
  • May participate in research cruises aboard research vessels, deploying and maintaining instruments, and collecting data samples.
  • Ensure data quality and maintain detailed logs of field activities.
  • This role often requires strong physical fitness and the ability to work in challenging environments at sea.

3. Coastal Scientist:

  • Study the interaction between the ocean, land, and atmosphere in coastal zones.
  • Research topics may include coastal erosion, wave dynamics, storm surge prediction, and the impact of climate change on coastal ecosystems.
  • Collaborate with engineers on coastal management projects to mitigate erosion and protect coastal communities.
  • Potential employers include government agencies, environmental consulting firms, and universities with coastal research programs.

4. Marine Modeling Scientist:

  • Develop, apply, and validate computer models to simulate ocean circulation, climate change impacts, and potential hazards like storm surges and tsunamis.
  • Analyze model outputs and translate complex scientific data into clear visualizations and reports.
  • This role requires strong programming skills (e.g., Python, MATLAB) and a solid understanding of oceanographic principles.

5. Data Analyst/Oceanographer:

  • Manage and analyze large datasets collected from various oceanographic sources (e.g., satellites, buoys, research vessels).
  • Develop and implement data processing techniques to ensure data quality and accessibility.
  • Create data visualizations and reports to communicate oceanographic findings to scientists, policymakers, and the public.
  • Skills in data science and scientific computing are valuable assets for this role.

These are just a few examples, and the specific job titles and duties can vary depending on the organization and area of focus.

Here are some additional tips for launching your career in physical oceanography:

  • Pursue a Degree in Oceanography, Physics, or a related field. Many employers require a Master’s or Ph.D. degree.
  • Gain Research Experience. Participate in research internships or volunteer programs to gain hands-on experience in oceanographic research methods.
  • Develop Strong Technical Skills. This could include proficiency in data analysis software, programming languages, and scientific modeling tools.
  • Strengthen Communication Skills. The ability to communicate complex scientific concepts clearly and concisely is essential for grant proposals, research papers, and public outreach.
  • Network with Professionals. Attend conferences, workshops, and professional society meetings to connect with other oceanographers and explore potential career opportunities.

Assignment Submitted by Tasnim tamanna adrita