Introduction to Oceanography Problem Sets



PS 4

Problem Set 1 

Not available on the web, see instructor. Due 4/16.

Problem Set 2

Due Fri 4/30, 4pm (please, no later!).

1. (1 page, plus diagrams) Describe the El Nino phenomenon and its biological importance, in terms of currents, water masses and temperatures.

2. (1 page) Discuss the unique chemical and physical characteristics of water, and their importance to Leonardo de Caprio as he lies on a piece of wreckage from the Titanic, adrift in the Atlantic Ocean.

3. (1 paragraph, plus diagrams) Obtain tide information for Bar Harbor for the period 15 May to 15 June 2003. Plot the data (x-axis = time, y - axis = height) in Excel or equivalent, and label spring and neap tides, and the four states of moon. Plot (in Excel) a finer detail graph of tide changes over one day. Indicate the point of most rapid, and least rapid change in water height, ebb and flood phases of the cycle. Determine through internet research if the tides for Gloucester (MA) are later or sooner than in Bar harbor. Explain the difference you find in terms of an amphidromic model.

4. (1/2 page) What is the Antarctic (some times called the 'Polar') Convergence. Explain its formation in terms of water masses, and its biological relevance to Norwegian whalers…

5. (1 paragraph) Explain, with the aid of a diagram, the concept of geostrophic flow, and explain why in the northern hemisphere, eastern boundary flows are always cooler, more shallow and slower than fast moving, warm and deep western boundary currents. Does this phenomenon hold true for the southern ocean also? Explain.

6. (1 paragraph) Why are a number of the best fisheries located on eastern perimeters of basins?


Problem Set 3

Due 5/18

1. (half-page) How would one calculate the amount of fish (tons biomass) available for harvest given a knowledge of the biomass of primary productivity. Critique the basis of such a calculation.

2. (half-page) What is the concept of the Tragedy of the Commons, and what is its relevance to the Law of the Sea. Although not yet ratified, comment on the impacts of developing such an agreement (e.g., EEZs, Magnuson Fishery Act).

3. (half-page) Describe, with illustrations, the different strategies available to protect a beach from erosion.

4. (half-page) In the film The Perfect Storm, Sully is almost swept overboard by a rogue wave. How does such a wave form, and describe the changes it will go through as it approaches, and finally meets the shoreline?

5. (half-page) What was Sully doing out by the shelf break anyway? Using a combination of library and internet research, briefly describe the US east-coast swordfish fishery, and the oceanographic reasons for its location.

6. (half-page) Describe the phenomenon of "black smokers" as a biological habitat, and the suggested reasons as to why researchers believe these vents could hold clues to the origins of life on this planet.

7. (no more than one page) The Andrew Gail was heading towards the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap. In a simple diagram locate these areas, and describe the reasons for their productivity with specific reference to the history of the northern cod fishery.


Problem Set 4


Choose a topic in oceanography to research, and write a term paper on the subject. Be sure to get the instructor or TA's approval before embarking on the topic. The paper should be typed 10 point, 1.5 spacing, and no more than 6 pages. One of those pages should be a bibliography which you cite throughout the paper, using an appropriate scientific style (e.g. Canadian Journal of Zoology, Animal Behavior, etc.).