Introduction to Physical Oceanography and Climate
FAS course web page for EPS 131 (Spring 2014)

Field trip to Woods Hole oceanographic institution, spring 2014.

Eli Tziperman, office hours: please see FAS course web page.
Chris Horvat, horvat@fas.harvard.edu. Tel, office, office Hours: please see FAS course web page.
Day, time:
Monday, Thursday, 2:30-4.
University Museum (24 Oxford St), first floor, room 105 (Daly Seminar Rm)
Field Trip!
To Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Departing early morning, returning around 6pm.
Matlab Intro Session:
date TBA (Feb 2014) time TBA, location: TBA
time TBA, location: TBA.
Important events…:
Field trips to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014.

EPS 131 Oscar events: 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014.

zeta vs xi (ζ vs ξ) competition: 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014.


1 Textbooks
2 Outline
3 Syllabus
4 Additional reading
5 Requirements
6 Links

Last updated: January 5, 2015
The final course time will be determined during the first two weeks of classes, to minimize conflicts with other courses for interested students
Feel free to write or call me with any questions:
Eli Tziperman; eli AT eps.harvard.edu
Office hours: call/ write.

(Obligatory & fun) field trip to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI): April 3 2014. We’ll be leaving Cambridge very early in the morning, back in the late afternoon. Our Host will be Dr. Bob Pickart; in previous trips we visited the R/V Atlantis, R/V Knorr, the submersible Alvin, and toured the labs of WHOI; photos;

1 Textbooks

Main ones, although it wont be followed very closely:

Also useful: see additional readings below.

2 Outline

This course will cover observations and the understanding of ocean phenomena from local surface beach waves to the effects of the oceans on global climate. We will discuss ocean waves, the Coriolis force and ocean currents, the large scale temperature and salinity distributions and more. As part of the ocean’s role in climate we will cover the wind-driven circulation and the Gulf stream, the thermohaline circulation and the potential instability of Europe’s climate due to global warming, El Nino events in the equatorial Pacific ocean, and more. The basic fluid dynamics equations will be gradually introduced. A field trip to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Code will be held during the course, which will be an opportunity to learn about sea-going oceanography as well.

The students will be introduced to the Matlab software for scientific computation and graphics, which will be used for some of the homework assignments.

Prerequisite: Mathematics 21ab or Applied Mathematics 21ab; Physics 15abc or 12ab or applied physics 50ab; or equivalents/ permission of instructor.

3 Syllabus

Detailed lecture notes, directory with all source materials for the lectures.

  1. Outline and motivation
  2. Temperature and salinity
  3. Horizontal circulation I: currents, Coriolis force
  4. Waves and oscillations I: basics
  5. Sea-going physical oceanography Finally, the real stuff. Two lectures by Dr. Bob Pickart from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and a field trip to Woods Hole.
  6. Friction moving icebergs and feeding the fish
  7. The thermohaline circulation
  8. Horizontal circulation II: Gulf Stream and other western boundary currents
  9. El Nino
  10. Abrupt climate change
  11. Some fluid dynamics fundamentals
  12. Waves and oscillations II: deep ocean waves and waves affected by the Coriolis force
  13. Misc Advanced topics (time permitting);

4 Additional reading

Beginning texts:

Intermediate texts:

Advanced texts:

5 Requirements

Quasi-weekly homework will be given throughout the course. The best 90% of the homework will constitute 40% of the final grade. Each student will be invited to present a brief informal description of some aspects of the ocean circulation and its role in climate and possibly do a class presentation of a fluid experiment (30%), see details here for a list of possible subjects. The final exam may be a take home (30%).

6 Links