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Introduction to Oceanography

GLG 115

Introduction to Oceanography

GLG 115

Course Description

Prerequisites: Prerequisites: READING LEVEL 2 and WRITING LEVEL 2 and MATH LEVEL 2.

Explores how the ocean stabilizes the Earth's surface environment. Includes global temperature distributions, El Nino events, ozone depletion, and global warming. Considers the origins and evolution of the ocean basins, currents, circulation patterns, and physical and chemical properties of seawater. Investigates the impact of humans on the marine environment, including shoreline changes, pollution effects, and extraction of natural resources. May include optional field trip to view shoreline features of the Great Lakes. (45-0)

Outcomes and Objectives

Describe the role of the ocean in human history and knowledge of the development of ocean science.

Objectives:

  • Discuss the role of the early trading and exploration voyages, including the Polynesians and the Phoenicians.
  • Describe methods of navigation prior to modern techniques.
  • Explain how advances in navigation helped oceanography.
  • Discuss the significance of the Challenger expedition.
  • Explain why so many major advances in oceanography were made since WWII.

Describe water movement in coastal areas and explain processes affecting beaches and coastlines.

Objectives:

  • Draw and describe a typical beach profile from bar to backshore.
  • Discuss the role of wave approach plays in longshore current direction.
  • Draw and describe the effects of wave refraction.
  • Explain human attempts to curb coastal erosion.
  • Compare and contrast jetties and breakwaters.
  • Discuss the formation of a sea stack.
  • Describe rip currents and why they develop.
  • Discuss two methods of forming an estuary.

Describe how sediment deposits form and how they relate to other ocean processes.

Objectives:

  • List and describe the four major types of ocean sedimentation.
  • Explain why red clay is so common in the deep ocean.
  • Describe differences in continental shelf deposits vs. continental rise deposits.
  • List and discuss resources that can be extracted from the ocean sediments.
  • Describe the factors that control carbonate deposition in the oceans.
  • Discuss the distribution and occurrence of manganese nodules.
  • Discuss the controls on siliceous sediments.
  • Discuss how sediment thicknesses are used to support the theory of plate tectonics.

Explain the principal features of the ocean basins and the differences between the continents and the ocean floor.

Objectives:

  • List and describe the major features of the continental margins.
  • List and describe the major features of the deep ocean basins.
  • Define midocean ridge and ocean trench.
  • Describe the role of the submarine canyons as conduits for sediment transport.
  • Discuss the land vs. ocean distribution at the surface of the Earth.
  • Define and describe the significance of the hypsographic curve.
  • Explain what drives the hydrologic cycle.
  • Compare and contrast the midocean ridges vs. guyots and abyssal hills.
  • Describe a turbidite and discuss the origins of these features

Describe the principles of plate tectonic theory and how the ocean basins evolved.

Objectives:

  • Compare and contrast the three types plate boundaries.
  • Describe the two major components of the lithosphere.
  • Compare and contrast volcanic occurrences at subduction zones, spreading centers, and hotspots.
  • Describe how hotspots are used to determine plate speed and plate direction.
  • Discuss possible mechanisms for the movement of the plates.
  • Explain why the Pacific Ocean is called the "Ring of Fire."
  • Explain magnetic reversals and their relationship to sea floor spreading.
  • Discuss hydrothermal circulation at midocean ridges.
  • List and describe the layers of the Earth.

Explain the processes controlling ocean water chemistry and the importance of water's thermal and physical properties in ocean processes.

Objectives:

  • Discuss the unique properties of liquid water, including heat capacity, density, and viscosity.
  • Determine the number of calories needed to change liquid water to a solid or a gas.
  • List the most common salts in ocean water.
  • Explain why salinity and temperature are important in characterizing sea waters.
  • Describe why freezing of ocean water increases the salinity.
  • Describe why evaporation causes an increase in salinity.
  • Define residence time.
  • Discuss why ocean water buffers the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Explain the oceans role in slowing global warming.

Explain how the ocean and the atmosphere interact, and their combined affect on the Earth's climate.

Objectives:

  • Draw and label the layers of the atmosphere.
  • Describe land sea breezes.
  • Discuss the Earth's heat budget and why most heat is received at the equator
  • Draw and label the seasons in relation to the Earth's orbit about the sun.
  • Discuss atmospheric circulation on a rotating and a nonrotating Earth.
  • Describe the cause and consequences of the Coriolis effect.
  • Describe how hurricanes develop and where can they not develop.
  • Discuss the probable causes, and the climatic affects, of an El Nino event.
  • Describe why monsoonal patterns exist in some locations.

Describe the role of the ocean in transporting heat and understand how and where stratified water masses form.

Objectives:

  • Describe the absorption of light in water.
  • Define and explain the development of a pycnocline, halocline, and a thermocline.
  • Describe the relationship of ocean circulation to nutrient and dissolved oxygen supply..
  • Explain how temperature-salinity relationships are used to trace movements of water masses.

Describe the interactions between winds and surface currents and understand the processes driving subsurface currents.

Objectives:

  • Explain the causes of most ocean surface currents.
  • Draw and describe the formation of ocean gyres in all major oceans.
  • Describe the Ekman spiral and why net transport is perpendicular to wind direction.
  • Predict upwelling or downwelling given the hemisphere and the wind direction along the coast.
  • Discuss why western boundary currents, such as the Gulf Stream, are often the strongest.
  • Explain convergence patterns in the middle of ocean gyres and their relationship to nutrient supply and/or downwelling.

Describe the basic features of waves and how they form, including differences between shallow and deep water waves.

Objectives:

  • Describe the forces acting to create and destroy waves.
  • Compare and contrast shallow water waves vs. deep water waves.
  • List and discuss the factors which determine wave size.
  • Describe the different types of surf.
  • Explain the formation of a tsunami.

Describe the general features and causes of ocean tides.

Objectives:

  • Compare and contrast the tides from the sun and moon.
  • Define daily, semidaily, and mixed tides.
  • Describe why the tidal day is different from a 24-hour day.
  • Draw and explain the spring and neap tides in relation to the movement of the sun, moon, and Earth.