“Most sciences take as province one class of phenomena; oceanography studies all classes of phenomena in one place, the global ocean on Earth.”
Nearly three quarters of the earth’s surface is covered by ocean, influencing everything from global climate to life on earth.
Oceanography is the study of the marine environment and its interactions with the earth, the biosphere, and the atmosphere, and combines the intellectual study of ocean movement and life with practical understanding of its resources.
Oceanography is an interdisciplinary science integrating the basic principles of biology, chemistry, geology, physics, geophysics, mathematics, botany, zoology, meteorology, and geography – a complex interweaving of scientific disciplines.
Only decades old as an integrated field of study, the difficulties involved in exploration make oceans the last great frontier. Technological instrumentation and vessels, increasingly sophisticated computers, satellite remote sensing, and innovative methodologies open possibilities for exploration and research.
Oceanography is divided into four areas of emphasis:
BIOLOGICAL OCEANOGRAPHY examines the processes governing the distribution, abundances, and production of plants, animals, and nutrients in the oceanic ecosystem. Emphasis is on investigations of bacteria, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and benthic organisms. Progress entails identifying the patterns of variability in space and time, determining the processes producing and maintaining the patterns, then quantifying the processes.
CHEMICAL OCEANOGRAPHY investigates the complex chemistry, distribution and cycling of dissolved substances, nutrients, and gases in seawater, the mechanisms controlling them and their origins and fates.
MARINE GEOLOGY & GEOPHYSICS studies marine sediments (their formation, transport, and deposition); ocean basin formation (plate tectonics); processes governing shoreline formation; and the origin, structure, and history of the oceanic crust and upper mantle.
PHYSICAL OCEANOGRAPHY endeavors to understand and predict motion in the sea. Scales of motion range from millimeters through tidal and current scales to the great ocean gyres. The distribution of physical properties (temperature, salinity, sea ice) and air-sea interaction and its implications for climate are fertile areas of research.
Read more about Jacobs OceanLab