General Course Description and Objectives

This is an introductory survey course in oceanography, covering all the major disciplinary areas related to the study of the world ocean.  These disciplinary areas include geology, chemistry, physics, and biology.  When we look at these subjects in the context of the ocean they are quite interesting, and help us understand phenomena we hear a lot about, but may not completely understand.  Many of these are especially important to us here in Hawaii.  In this course you will be introduced to the areas of geological, physical, chemical, and biological oceanography, learn how oceanography concepts are applied to local as well as global environmental and marine-related issues, learn how many diverse areas of science integrate together, and be introduced to the methods scientists use to study the marine environment.  

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the student should be able to:

a.                  Differentiate between the multi-disciplinary areas of oceanography.

b.                  Locate the major ocean basins on a world map and describe modern methods of exploring the ocean.

c.                  Explain the modern theory of plate tectonics and describe geological phenomena in terms of plate tectonic theory.

d.                  Describe the structure of the seafloor from the continental margins to the deep-ocean basins.

e.                   Explain the importance of oceanic sediments for understanding long-term geological and climate phenomena on the Earth. 

f.                    Identify the major chemical constituents of seawater and define salinity as it is used in oceanography.

g.                  Define density and describe the density structure (layering) of the ocean.

h.                  Explain how heat, light, and sound are affected by the nature of water.

i.                    Describe the Coriolis Effect and how it influences the movement of air and water masses in each hemisphere.

j.                    Describe the major climate zones and atmospheric circulation patterns on the Earth.

k.                  Explain how major weather and climate systems (such as hurricanes and El-Nino) are influenced by the ocean environment.

l.                    Explain the difference between oceanic surface currents and deep-ocean circulation, and describe the processes that produce them.

m.                Describe the surface-current circulation patterns in each ocean basin.

n.                  Explain how waves are generated in the open ocean and how they are transformed into surf along the world’s coastlines.

o.                  Explain how Tsunami are generated and the properties of Tsunami.

p.                  Describe the processes by which coastlines are modified by geological and oceanic processes.

q.                  Explain how the tidal patterns we observe are produced.

r.                   Describe how organisms are classified by the ecological role they play in the oceanic environment.

s.                   Explain the major factors that influence the distribution and abundance of marine organisms in the oceanic environment.

t.                    Describe energy flow, food webs, and trophic levels in the oceanic ecosystem.

u.                  Define primary productivity in the oceanic ecosystem, and describe the factors that influence productivity in the ocean.

v.                  Describe the methods by which the major commercial fisheries harvest their catches, along with the environmental and ecological problems associated with each.

w.                Explain the significance of exponential global population growth, and describe the ecological effects of such growth on the world’s environment.