Scheda insegnamento

Anno Accademico 2017/2018

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

The course aims at giving the basic understanding of ocean dynamics solving the classical problems of the wind driven ocean circulation for the world open ocean areas, starting from the Ekman and ending with the quasigeostrophic vorticity dynamics. Planetary gravity and Rossby wave motion is discussed in details ending with a short introduction to the overturning climatic circulation of the oceans.


1. Structure of the ocean general circulation

2. The forcing of the ocean circulation: wind, heat and water fluxes at the air-sea interface

3. Primitive equations for the oceans

4. Reynolds theory of turbulence, parameterizations of turbulence in the ocean

5. Classical viscous solutions and ‘law of the wall’ for momentum stress at the air-sea interface

6. Boundary conditions for the ocean primitive equations

7. The planetary turbulent boundary layer: the Ekman currents at the surface and bottom of the water column

8. The Ekman transport and the Ekman vertical velocity

9. Large scale upwelling/downwelling processes

10. Vorticity conservation principles

11. Shallow water equations

12. Gravity wave solutions for the shallow water equations: inertial, Poincare’, Kelvin waves

13. Equatorial Kelvin waves

14. Non-dimensional quasigeostrophic analysis of the shallow water equations: Rossby waves

15. Rossby waves in a zonal current

16. Wind driven general circulation: Sverdrup, Stommel and Pedlosky solutions

17. El Nino theory and wave dynamics

18. Energy and enstrophy: oceanic vortices and quasigeostrophic turbulence

19. Overturning circulation of the world ocean

20. Deep and intermediate water convection in the ocean

21. Fundamentals of shear instability


Talley, L., D., G.L.Pickard, W.J. Emery and J.H. Swift, 2011. Descriptive Physical Oceanography: An Introduction. Academic Press, Elsevier, ISBN: 978-0-7506-4552-2

Cushman-Roisin, B., Introduction to Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Academic Press

N.Pinardi, 2013. Physical Oceanography

Metodi didattici

All lectures and exercises are done in the classroom (all frontal lectures)

Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

Oral exam

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

Classes use the blackboard and seceral sets of slides taken from the textbooks

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Nadia Pinardi