Book:Introduction to Physical Oceanography

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Bibliographical Data

Title:Introduction to Physical Oceanography
Author:Robert Stewart
Subjects:Earth Science
Key words:
Education Level:
License:All Rights Reserved - Standard Copyright
Description:Texas A&M has a remarkable website called Oceanworld that’s a must-visit site for students in the earth sciences. Professor Bob Stewart has written two oceanography textbooks and is distributing them for free online as part of the site. The site contains extensive resources, including several links lists, a glossary, and links to the course content of Dr. Bob’s courses.

This book is definitely the more polished of the two books. It’s comparable in scope and quality to any standard print book. The book is available in two versions, one meant for reading online, the other a PDF file for offline reading or printing. The content is generally organized in a fleshed-out outline format. The outline format makes it easier to find relevant info quickly, but readability suffers a little. Still, it’s no more difficult to read than any print book, and the concepts are probably better explained in the outline format.

Both versions have plenty of good graphics, color online and b&w in the PDF. The online version is well-linked and relatively easy to navigate, although it’s lacking a search function and index. The PDF version has an index, but is designed for printing, not on-screen reading. This means the chapters and index aren’t hyperlinked, an unfortunate ommission. But these minor quibbles shouldn’t distract from an otherwise excellent piece of work. A welcome addition is the changelog that lets readers see what’s been updated in the book. Outside experts are encouraged to contribute material to the book.

From the text:

Before beginning a voyage, we usually try to learn about the places we will visit. We look at maps and we consult travel guides. In this book, our guide will be the papers and books published by oceanographers. We begin with a brief overview of what is known about the oceans. We then proceed to a description of the ocean basins, for the shape of the seas influences the physical processes in the water. Next, we study the external forces, wind and heat, acting on the ocean, and the ocean’s response. As we proceed, I bring in theory and observations as necessary.

By the time we reach chapter 7, we will need to understand the equations describing dynamic response of the oceans. So we consider the equations of motion, the influence of Earth’s rotation, and viscosity. This leads to a study of wind-driven ocean currents, the geostrophic approximation, and the usefulness of conservation of vorticity.

Toward the end, we consider some particular examples: the deep circulation, the equatorial ocean and El Niño, and the circulation of particular areas of the oceans. Next we look at the role of numerical models in describing the ocean. At the end, we study coastal processes, waves, tides, wave and tidal forecasting, tsunamis, and storm surges.


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