Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Luanne Thompson
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 predict future climate change? We will focus on ocean storage and transport of heat and freshwater. We will first develop basic understanding of how the ocean is set into motion and how it stores and transports temperature and fresh water. Through readings of contemporary papers and excepts of the recent IPCC report we will then answer the following questions:

Should we worry about global warming leading to the next ice-age? What ocean measurements should be made to monitor climate change? What is causing regional changes in the ocean? Is sea-ice extent change tied to ocean circulation?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures, in class exercises, presentations and discussions

Recommended preparation

Prerequisite: PHYS 123; MATH 125; recommended: OCEAN 210

Class assignments and grading

5 graded homework assignments involving calculations Preparation of summary of a research topic and presentation

Grades will be based on five written assignments (45%). You will prepare a brief summary (1-2 pages) and a presentation on a topic related to the role of the oceans in climate change (40%). All of the other students on your day of presentation will read one short paper on the topic and prepare two questions based on what they read and participate in the discussion on these topics (15%). There will be no midterm or final exam.


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.
Course web site
Last Update by Luanne Thompson
Date: 03/30/2009