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Scripps Institution of Oceanography: Climate Change and the Ocean - CANCELLED

Department: Marine Science                                   

Instructor: Lauren Hoffman
Instructor's Email:
Prerequisites: None

Course Description

Climate Change and the Ocean focuses on describing the physical properties of the ocean (i.e. temperature and salinity), and their relation to atmospheric CO2. We will investigate this relationship by, (i) accessing and plotting data from online sources, (ii) analyzing and interpreting these data within the scientific community of our course, (iii) applying these analyses to draw meaningful conclusions about how CO2 impacts the ocean, (iv) communicating our findings to both scientific and lay audiences.

Course Goals / Learning Objectives

  • Accurately describe the physical and chemical properties of the ocean and their relation to climate change
  • Access, plot, and analyze real-world oceanographic data
  • Formulate hypothesis and draw meaningful conclusions from data
  • Communicate scientific results (i) to other scientists and (ii) to a wider audience
  • Students will be able to take charge of their learning and relate their new knowledge to outside events

Course Outline

Week 1: Properties of Seawater

  • Important properties of seawater
  • Trends of temperature, salinity, and density at different time and spatial scales 
  • Tools used to measure oceanographic data

Week 2: Air-Sea Interaction 

  • Variaions in solar radiation on Earth
  • Phyiscal properties of the atmosphere
  • The Coriolis Effect
  • The ocean's influence on global weather phenomena and climate patterns

Week 3: Ocean Dynamics & Circulation

  • Deep and surface ocean currents and circulation patterns
  • Causes and impacts of upwelling and downwelling
  • The causes and types of tidal patterns that exist
  • Wave generation, movement and characteristics
Week 4: Ocean Biogeochemistry
  • Distribution of carbon and oxygen in the ocean
  • Earth's climate system
  • Solutions for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions


*Courses vary by experience and exposure to content. Instructors have the ability to change content and pace to serve the needs of students. Courses have been modified for online teaching.