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


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