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Introduction to Physical Oceanography


Why study the Physics of the ocean?
The answer depends on our interests, which devolve from our use of the ocean.
Three broad themes are important:
1. We get food from the ocean. Hence we may be interested in processes which influence the sea just as farmers are interested in the weather and climate. The ocean not only has weather such as temperature changes and currents, but the oceanic weather fertilizes the sea. The atmospheric weather seldom fertilizes fields except for the small amount of nitrogen fixed by lightning.
2. We use the ocean. We build structures on the shore or just offshore. We use the ocean for transport. We obtain oil and gas below the ocean. And, we use the ocean for recreation, swimming, boating, fishing, surfing, and diving. Hence we are interested in processes that influence these activities, especially waves, winds, currents, and temperature.
3. The ocean influence the atmospheric weather and climate. The ocean influence the distribution of rainfall, droughts, floods, regional climate, and the development of storms, hurricanes, and typhoons. Hence we are interested in air-sea interactions, especially the fluxes of heat and water across the sea surface, the transport of heat by the ocean, and the influence of the ocean on climate and weather patterns.

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Tags: ocean, weather, influence, interested, climate