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
Chapter 2: Ocean dimensions, shapes and bottom materials
Chapter 3: Physical properties of seawater
Chapter 4: Typical distributions of water characteristics
Chapter 5: Mass, salt and heat budgets and wind forcing
Chapter 6: Data analysis concepts and observational methods
Chapter 7: Dynamical processes for descriptive ocean circulation
Chapter 8: Gravity waves, tides, and coastal oceanography
Chapter 9: Atlantic Ocean
Chapter 10: Pacific Ocean
Chapter 11: Indian Ocean
Chapter 12: Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas
Chapter 13: Southern Ocean
Chapter 14: Global circulation and water properties

Supplemental texts (web only):
Chapter S1: Brief history of physical oceanography
Chapter S7: (expanded) Dynamical processes for descriptive ocean circulation
Chapter S8: Gravity waves, tides, and coastal oceanography (additional materials)
Chapter S15: Climate and the oceans
Chapter S16: Instruments and Methods


No. of pages:
© 2011
Academic Press
Print ISBN:
Electronic ISBN:


"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