SIO 119: Physics and Chemistry of the Ocean


The course is designed to be interactive. Our goal is to help students master the essential aspects of physical and chemical oceanography that matter for marine biology. (The course is open to students in other majors, as well, and no prior knowledge of biology is expected.)

Specific topics that we plan to address this year:

  • How will climate change influence the ocean environment, and what are implications for marine ecosystems? What does sea level rise do in coastal environments? What is the impact of ocean acidification on ecosystems?
  • What are the major ocean currents of the global ocean? What do they transport? How do we figure out where they go?
  • What processes bring nutrients to the upper ocean, where sunlight is available, and phytoplankton can grow? How does upwelling in the California Current region (for example) influence nutrient availability?
  • What is the chemistry behind ocean acidification? How does changing chemistry change the environment? What does ocean acidification mean for the upper ocean, and what happens in the deep ocean?
  • Why does iron matter for ecosystems? Why does iron matter in some parts of the world's oceans? What physical and chemical processes control iron availability? How does iron fertilization increase phytoplankton growth? And what is the likely impact of the iron fertilization effort carried out this past year off the coast of Canada?