Research Topics in Physical Oceanography

Course content

We will apply classical physics to the problem of ocean circulation. The lectures will take place during the first 2 weeks of August (30.7 – 12.8.2017) on the island of Bornoe, approx. 100 km north of Gothenburg. Additional students and lecturers will join from the Universities of Hamburg, Oslo and Stockholm. The goal is to develop an in-depth understanding of current research topics related to the structure of the time mean ocean circulation. The focus for 2017 will be 'Topographic planetary waves and the establishment of the abyssal ocean circulation.'

Parallel to the lectures there will be practical exercises during which we develop our own ocean model in Matlab. This numerical model will then be used to verify the analytical results arrived at during the lectures.

The students will prepare with the relevant literature before the summer school and hand in a written report on their research topic a week after return from Bornoe.


MSc Programme in Physics

Learning outcome


The student can:

  • write down the equations governing ocean dynamics
  • explain the effect of rotating frames of reference
  • explain how planetary waves establish the steady circulation



The student:

  • can distinguish and explain the various kinds of waves in the ocean
  • knows the basic dynamic regimes of the ocean
  • can explain the current challenges in theoretical oceanography
  • knows how climate signals are transmitted in the ocean



The student can:

  • translate a physical problem into mathematical formalism
  • … and both into a numerical model

The course includes lectures, theoretical exercises, experimental exercises and possibly field trips.

The book we will use is "Waves in Atmosphere and Ocean", Pedlosky, Springer 2003

The course assumes knowledge corresponding to a graduate level class in Steady Ocean Circulation or equivalent.
Furthermore you are expected to have physics B.Sc. courses corresponding to Mechanics 1+2, Thermodynamics, MatIntro, LinAlg & MatF.
Basic Matlab skills.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 minutes
Oral exam, 30 minutes without preparation.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
More internal examiners.
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 60
  • Theory exercises
  • 35,5
  • Practical exercises
  • 50
  • Exam
  • 0,5
  • Preparation
  • 60
  • English
  • 206,0