460:225 Introduction to Oceanography

Instructor: Kustka
Terms Taught: Spring
Credits: 3

Course Description
Oceanography can be described as the interdisciplinary study of geological, physical, chemical and biological processes that – in concert – are responsible for the characteristics of the World Ocean.   During the semester we will dive into the scientific underpinnings (if you can pardon the bad pun) of the answers for a multitude of questions, including (and in no particular order): Why is the water in the Caribbean Sea clear and blue, while New Jersey water is mostly brown-green (No… pollution is not the answer)?  Did life originate at hydrothermal vents and how does life thrive there without sunlight? What are harmful algal blooms and how do they compare to ‘regular’ blooms? What causes blooms? What do the oceans have to do with global climate? Why are deep sea creatures often red? What is it about the Atlantic Ocean that makes western Europe winters mild compared to the East Coast of the United States? For example, why does it snow in Washington, D.C. but rarely (every 50 years or so!) in Lisbon, despite that they are at the same latitude?  What has the genome revolution told us about the oceans? How do hurricanes form?  Why don’t they ever cross the equator?  Why does the beach look scalloped? Why do waves form and why do they break? Have the oceans always been salty? Are they expanding or shrinking?  How does sea level drop in one place if it is rising everywhere else?  Why is the middle of the ocean sometimes shallower than waters just a few tens of miles offshore? What the heck are plates anyway?  Why is the tidal range at the Bay of Fundy a whopping 53 feet, while other locations show no tidal range at all? 


Learning Objectives:
• Achieve an introductory level of ocean literacy, encompassing information and concepts from geological, physical, chemical and biological oceanography.
• Understand the scientific method and how it is applied towards understanding ocean phenomena.
• Learn to synthesize information from various sub-disciplines to better understand oceanographic phenomena, evaluated through in class clicker responses, homework and exam essay questions.
• Achieve the ability to interpret scientific data - pertaining to environmental issues – presented in graphical form.