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Physical Oceanography is the study of physical properties and dynamics of the oceans.

The primary interests are the interaction of the ocean with the atmosphere, the oceanic heat budget, water mass formation, currents, and coastal dynamics. Physical Oceanography is considered by many to be a sub-discipline of geophysics.

Temperature, Salinity and Density

Temperature is mainly dependant on the latitude.

Salinity is the measure of dissolved salts in water.

Salinity is now defined as a ratio of electrical conductivities generally of potassium chloride. Water density is controlled by changes in pressure, temperature, and concentration of dissolved constituents (salinity).

Conservation of Mass: Conservation of Energy:

Leads to Continuity Equation. Conservation of heat leads Heat Budgets. Conservation of mechanical energy leads to Wave Equation

Conservation of Momentum: Conservation of Angular Momentum:

Leads to Momentum (NavierStokes) Equation. Leads to Conservation of Vorticity.

Dominant Forces Gravity Coriolis Gives rise to pressure gradients, buoyancy, and tides. Results from motion in a rotating coordinate system. Is due to relative motion between two fluid parcels. Wind stress is an important frictional force.


Other Forces
Atmospheric Pressure Seismic Results in inverted barometer effect. Results in tsunamis driven by earthquakes.


Thermocline - A cline based on difference in water temperature,

Chemocline - A cline based on difference in water chemistry,

Halocline - A cline based on difference in water salinity.

Thermohaline circulation

Tides are generated by the gravitational attraction of the Moon and Sun on the Earth. This attraction affects water, solid Earth and the atmosphere, but the results on the last two cannot be observed by the unaided eye. The tides are a consequence of the simultaneous action of the Moon's, Sun's and Earth's gravitational forces, and the revolution about one another of the Earth and Moon and the Earth and Sun.

Forces involved in the formation of a spring tide.

Forces involved in the formation of a neap tide.

In parts of the northern Gulf of Mexico and Southeast Asia, tides have one high and one low water per tidal day .These tides are called diurnal tides.

Semi-diurnal tides have two high and two low waters per tidal day.They are common on the Atlantic coasts of the United States and Europe.

Many parts of the world experience mixed tides where successive high-water and lowwater stands differ appreciably