Introduction to Physical Oceanography and Climate
Spring 2018
FAS course web page for EPS 131

Field trip to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, spring 2018.

Eli Tziperman, office hours: please see FAS course web page.
Wanying Kang, wanyingkang@g.harvard.edu. Office Hours: see FAS course web page.
Day, time:
Tuesday, Thursday, 1:00-2:30.
University Museum, 24 Oxford St, third floor, room 375
Field Trip!
To the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/ WHOI, obligatory & fun; hosted by Dr. Bob Pickart; Friday April 6, 2018. Departing 7am, returning around 6pm.
will be used for HW and class demonstrations. If you would like a refresher, consider the Matlab boot camp, 3-4 lectures during the beginning of the term. Register here.
time and location: see FAS course web page.
Source materials:
Here. To access from outside campus or from the Harvard wireless network, use the VPN software available from the FAS software download site.
Important past events…:
Homework will be assigned every 9-10 days (40% of course grade). Each student will give a short (10 min) presentation (details), which, together with a small-group video project (examples above) and/ or a wikipedia entry-writing project, will constitute another 30%. The final exam will be a take-home (30%).

Collaboration policy: we strongly encourage you to discuss and work on homework problems with other students and with the teaching staff. However, after discussions with peers, you need to work through the problems 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. You must appropriately cite any books, articles, websites, lectures, etc that have helped you with your work.

Course materials are the property of the instructional staff, 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.

Last updated: May 11, 2018
Feel free to write or call with any questions:
Eli Tziperman; eli@eps.harvard.edu
Office hours: see course web page.


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 Links

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 Niņo evens in the equatorial Pacific Ocean; the greenhouse effect, 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. Time permitting:
    1. Abrupt climate change
    2. Some fluid dynamics fundamentals
    3. Waves and oscillations II: deep ocean surface waves

4 Additional readings

Beginning texts:

Intermediate texts:

Advanced texts:

5 Links