Physical Oceanography:

The physics of seawater

This lecture details the physical and chemical underpinnings of ocean stratification.

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Table of Contents

Title slide

An overview of ocean stratification

Chemical and Physical structure

Salinity displays a latitudinal relationship related to precipitation and evaporation.

Latitudinal variation in salinity

Salinity profiles

Density of sea water is a function of temperature, salinity and pressure.

Density stratification

The water column in the ocean can be divided into the surface layer, pycnocline and deep layer.

Factors leading to a pycnocline

Density structure of the ocean

Water is recycled from the ocean to the land and returned to the sea.

The hydrological cycle

Resource cycling within the ocean


Chemical techniques

Sea ice is ice that forms by the freezing of sea water

Amount of light entering the ocean depends upon the height of the sun above the horizon and the smoothness of sea surface.

Light absorption in the open ocean

Light penetration

Light absorption in nearshore, productive waters

The speed of sound in water increases as salinity, temperature and pressure increase

Behavior of sound in water

The SOFAR channel

The sea surface microlayer is the water surface to a depth of a few hundred micrometers

The seasurface microlayer

Summary of resource cycling

Author: Sean Todd


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