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Physical Oceanography II



Course format On-site
Date 2021-01-18 - 2021-03-24
Entry level Bachelor
Cost 29 750 SEK

The course is a continuation of OCM100, Physical Oceanography I. It provides an introduction to time-dependent phenomena in the sea, such as waves and instabilities at both small and large scales. A great emphasis is on the physical understanding of how small amplitude disturbances propagate and how a rotating fluid naturally evolves toward a state of geostrophic balance, a process known as the geostrophic adjustment. The course will also give a review of how turbulent mixing takes place in the sea, describing what controls the seasonal variability of the surface mixed layer properties and what sets the stratification in the ocean’s interior.


A Bachelor's degree in Natural Science, Engineering or Technology including 15 credits within Physical Oceanography. Alternatively: 120 credits in the field of Science where at least 60 credits must be in the fields of Mathematics, Physics and Meteorology and at least 15 credits within Physical Oceanography.

Grant opportunities

EU/EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students do not pay fees. More information on:

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the student is expected to be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • Introduce the equations and properties of shallow-water systems and understand the process of geostrophic adjustment
  • Understand and explain the characteristics of the main waves that propagate in the sea, including the sound and gravity waves, and the Kelvin, Poincare and Rossby waves
  • Understand and explain how disturbances propagate in a layered or in a stratified fluid
  • Understand and explain different instability mechanisms in the ocean, including the Kelvin-Helmholtz, barotropic and baroclinic instabilities
  • Understand and explain the most important physical mixing processes in the ocean and their role in driving the ocean's overturning circulation

Competence and skills

  • Show the ability to set up and in some cases solve the equations for typical time-varying processes in the sea
  • Know how to manipulate mathematical expressions defining the properties of propagating and standing waves
  • Show the ability to identify the most important dimensionless parameters for a problem and to scale and linearize a set of equations of motion
  • Understand the principles for mixing processes and fluid instabilities for some idealized flow cases
  • Understand and know how to manipulate simple mathematical models of the global overturning circulation

Judgement and approach

  • Use fundamental principles of physics and mathematics to develop a quantitative understanding of ocean dynamics
  • Apply standard simplifications and evaluate limitations that are often associated to studies of ocean processes
  • Develop an ability to apply and manipulate simple theories to gain a quantitative understanding of several key processes controlling the observed ocean variability


ISCED Categories

Physical and chemical oceanography