Introduction to Physical Oceanography and Climate
Spring 2016
FAS course web page for EPS 131

Field trip to Woods Hole oceanographic institution, spring 2016.

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:
Tuesday, Thursday, 1:00-2:30.
University Museum, 24 Oxford St, first floor, room 105 Daly Seminar Room
Field Trip!
To Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, March 4, 2016. Departing early morning, returning around 6pm.
Matlab Intro Session:
Matlab will be used occasionally for HW assignments and class demonstrations. If you have not been exposed to Matlab or would like a refresher, we recommend that you consider attending the Matlab boot camp which involves 3-4 lectures and takes place during the beginning of the term. If interested, you need to register in advance at https://canvas.harvard.edu/courses/1858 and the number of students may be limited.
time and location: see FAS course web page.
Source materials:
are available here. In order to access notes and other course materials from outside the Harvard campus or from the Harvard wireless network, you’ll need to use the VPN software which can be downloaded from the FAS software download site.
Important past events…:


1 Textbooks
2 Outline
3 Syllabus
 Outline and motivation
 Temperature and salinity
 Horizontal circulation I: Coriolis force
 Waves I: basics
 Sea-going oceanography!
 Friction, Ekman
 The thermohaline circulation
 Horizontal circulation II: western boundary currents, vorticity, Rossby waves
 El Nino
 Abrupt climate change
 Fluid dynamics fundamentals
 Waves II
4 Additional readings
5 Requirements
6 Links

Last updated: January 28, 2017
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): date TBA, 2016. 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

Observations and understanding of ocean physics, from local beach waves to the effects of the oceans on global climate. Topics covered include wave motions such as ocean surface waves, internal waves, tsunamis and tides; currents, including the wind driven circulation, and the Gulf stream; coastal upwelling and fisheries; temperature, salinity, the overturning thermohaline circulation and its effect on global climate stability and variability; the basic fluid dynamics equations will be gradually introduced; El Nio evens in the equatorial Pacific Ocean; the oceans and global warming; Ocean observations by ships, satellites, moorings, floats and more.

A field trip to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod will be held during the course, which will be an opportunity to learn about sea-going oceanography.

Prerequisite: Applied Mathematics 21a,b; Physical Sciences 12a,b, Physics 15a,b,c or Applied Physics 50a,b; or equivalents/ permission of instructor.

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

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, Ekman moving icebergs and feeding the fish
  7. The thermohaline circulation
  8. Horizontal circulation II: Gulf Stream and other western boundary currents, vorticity, Rossby waves
  9. El Nino
  10. Abrupt climate change
  11. Some fluid dynamics fundamentals
  12. Waves and oscillations II: deep ocean surface waves and waves affected by the Coriolis force
  13. Misc Advanced topics (time permitting);

4 Additional readings

Beginning texts:

Intermediate texts:

Advanced texts:

5 Requirements

Homework will be assigned every 9-10 days throughout the course. The best 90% of the homework assignments 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 will be a take home (30%).

Collaboration policy: Discussion and the exchange of ideas are essential to doing academic work, and we strongly encourage you to discuss and work on homework problems with other students (and with the teaching staff, of course). However, after discussions with peers, make sure that you can work through the problem yourself and ensure that any answers you submit for evaluation are the result of your own efforts, reflect your own understanding and are written in your own words. In addition, you must cite any books, articles, websites, lectures, etc that have helped you with your work using appropriate citation practices.

Please note: Course materials are the property of the instructional staff, Harvard University, or other copyright holders, and are provided for your personal use. You may not distribute them or post them on websites without permission of the course instructor.

6 Links