Descriptive Physical Oceanography

6th Edition

An Introduction

Authors: Lynne Talley
Hardcover ISBN: 9780750645522
eBook ISBN: 9780080939117
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 6th April 2011
Page Count: 560
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The 6e of Descriptive Physical Oceanography provides an introduction to descriptive physical oceanography for advanced undergraduates and graduate students. The emphasis is on large-scale oceanography, based mainly in observations, with some topics from waves and coastal oceanography also included. Topics include the physical properties of seawater, heat and salt budgets, instrumentation, data analysis methods, introductory dynamics, oceanography and climate variability of each of the oceans and of the global ocean, and brief introductions to the physical setting, waves, and coastal oceanography.

Key Features

  • Expanded ocean basin descriptions, including ocean climate variability, emphasizing dynamical context
  • New chapters on global ocean circulation and introductory ocean dynamics
  • Companion website containing PowerPoint figures, supplemental chapters, and practical exercises for analyzing a global ocean data set using Java OceanAtlas


For advanced undergraduates and graduate students in the marine sciences and oceanography.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction to Descriptive Physical Oceanography

1.1. Overview

1.2. Space and TimeScales of Physical Oceanographic Phenomena

Chapter 2. Ocean Dimensions, Shapes, and Bottom Materials

2.1. Dimensions

2.2. Plate Tectonics and Deep-Sea Topography

2.3. Seafloor Features

2.4. Spatial Scales

2.5. Shore, Coast, and Beach

2.6. Continental Shelf, Slope, and Rise

2.7. Deep Ocean

2.8. Sills, Straits, and Passages

2.9. Methods for Mapping Bottom Topography

2.10. Bottom Material

2.11. Ocean Basins

Chapter 3. Physical Properties of Seawater

3.1. Molecular Properties of Water

3.2. Pressure

3.3. Thermal Properties of Seawater: Temperature, Heat, and Potential Temperature

3.4. Salinity and Conductivity

3.5. Density of Seawater

3.6. Tracers

3.7. Sound in the Sea

3.8. Light and the Sea

3.9. Ice in the Sea

Chapter 4. Typical Distributions of Water Characteristics

4.1. Introduction

4.2. Temperature Distribution of the Oceans

4.3. Salinity Distribution

4.4. Density Distribution

4.5. Dissolved Oxygen

4.6. Nutrients and Other Tracers

4.7. Age, Turnover Time, and Ventilation Rate

4.8. Optical Properties of Seawater

Chapter 5. Mass, Salt, and Heat Budgets and Wind Forcing

5.1. Conservation of Volume and Mass

5.2. Conservation of Salt

5.3. Three Examples of the two Conservation Principles

5.4. Conservation of Heat Energy; the Heat Budget

5.5. Geographic Distribution and Temporal Variation of the Heat-Budget Terms

5.6. Meridional Heat Transport

5.7. Buoyancy Fluxes

5.8. Wind Forcing

Chapter 6. Data Analysis Concepts and Observational Methods

6.1. O


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About the Author

Lynne Talley

Lynne Talley is a Professor of Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), University of California San Diego. Lynne is a seagoing oceanographer with research interests in the water mass distributions and circulation of the world ocean. She is a graduate of Oberlin College (B.A. in physics) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program (Ph.D. in physical oceanography). She has been an editor of the Journal of Physical Oceanography and has served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR4 and AR5), many committees of the National Academy of Sciences, and planning and steering committees for major field programs, including the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) of the 1990s and the U.S. Global Ocean Carbon and Repeat Hydrography Program. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Geophysical Union, the Oceanography Society, and the American Meteorological Society.

Affiliations and Expertise

Scripps Inst. of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, CA, USA


"This book and ancillary web-based appendices are a valuable reference for the modern-day seabird ecologist, providing a wealth of baseline information and serving as a language guide for describing physical oceanography…I highly recommend this updated classic text on descriptive physical oceanography."--Marine Ornithology Volume 40, No. 1, 2012