EAE4025 - Ocean circulation and dynamics - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Shayne McGregor


Dr Shayne McGregor

Not offered in 2019


Enrolment in the Master of Science


EAE5025Not offered in 2019


This unit will be offered every second year from Semester 2, 2020


Physical oceanography is the study of the ocean, its motion and the underlying physical processes. This unit will begin with a brief foray into descriptive physical oceanography, where details of the mean circulation and physical structure of the ocean will be presented along with the oceanographic past and present instruments and observing platforms. The unit will then cover aspects of dynamical physical oceanography particularly relevant for tropical and subtropical oceans, including the introduction of the equations of motion, Ekman layer theory and wind-driven circulation, geostrophic circulation, western boundary currents and internal waves. The unit will then finish by introducing interactions at the air-sea interface and how the related coupled ocean-atmosphere dynamics can lead to climatically relevant modes of climate variability, like the El Nino-southern oscillation.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Identify the mean circulation of the tropical to subtropical ocean and detail the underlying dynamical principles responsible for this circulation.
  2. Appraise how the ocean adjusts to perturbations, and utilise these dynamical principles to explain observed variations.
  3. Demonstrate a high level of knowledge of the important numerical techniques used to solve problems in physical oceanography.
  4. Critically analyse the scientific literature on ocean dynamics.


Assignments: 30%

Research paper review: 30%

Examination (2 hours): 40%

Workload requirements

A total of 12 hours per week comprising:

  • Two 1-hour lectures
  • One 1-hour lectorial
  • Three hours per week on assignments, reports and preparation of a talk
  • 6 hours of independent study

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Master of Science in Atmospheric Science