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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Susan L Hautala
OCEAN 423
Seattle Campus

Ocean Circulation and Climate

Quantitative treatment of ocean basin to global scale ocean circulation systems and their interaction with climate variability. Prerequisite: PHYS 123; MATH 125; recommended: OCEAN 210.

Class description

In this class, we will ask the question: what do we need to understand about the ocean in order to model future climate change? We will develop an understanding of what drives large-scale currents, how the ocean circulation system can move heat and fresh water around on the planet, and how it interacts with sea-ice and the atmosphere.

Student learning goals

State clearly (and with quantitative information to back you up) why understanding the dynamics and thermodynamics of the ocean is important to be able to predict climate.

Have an expertís knowledge on one topic relevant to the oceanís role in climate. You should be able to explain to your family and friends the importance of this topic.

Find the information that you need to explain the other topics in the class to your family and friends.

Be able to evaluate popular news items about the oceanís role in climate. To do this, you must be able to read and evaluate the primary literature on which statements in popular media are based.

Use Matlab for simple modeling and data analysis of the ocean processes important to climate.

General method of instruction

Classes during the first part of the quarter will be interactive lectures/discussions of background material and guided Matlab sessions at the computer in the Spatial Analysis Laboratory. Material from class will be directly related to a series of Matlab exercises assigned as homework. At this time, students will also begin researching a specific topic and preparing a short summary of one of the key papers from the primary literature. During the last few weeks students will give short (15-20 minute) presentations of what they have learned.

Recommended preparation

PHYS 123; MATH 125; recommended: OCEAN 210

Class assignments and grading

Problem sets (6): These will be Matlab-based exercises. I will introduce you to Matlab in the Spatial Analysis Laboratory during the first week, as we work together on the first assignment.

Presentation: A 15-20 minute talk on a topic related to the oceans and climate, followed by a 10 minute discussion period.

Paper Summary: A summary of a short paper from the primary literature related to the presentation topic.

Class Participation: Other students will read a short, general article on each of the presentation topics and earn participation points by submitting written questions and contributing to the discussion.

Paper Summary (15%): you will summarize a paper on your chosen topic

60% -- Matlab exercises (6) 15% -- Presentation to the class 15% -- Paper summary 10% -- Participation


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
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Last Update by Susan L Hautala
Date: 03/25/2011