Università degli Studi di Napoli "Parthenope"

Teaching schedule

Academic year: 
Belonging course: 
Course of Bachelor's Degree Programme on NAUTICAL AND AERONAUTICAL SCIENCES
Disciplinary sector: 
Year of study: 
Second semester
Hours of front activity: 


Course description

The course aims to provide students with the basic, theoretical and applied knowledge, of physical oceanography and of the role of the ocean in the Earth's climate system.
- Knowledge and understanding: The student must demonstrate the knowledge of the distribution of the main hydrological characteristics in the global ocean, will be able to interpret the time-space variability in terms of ocean dynamics and to frame it within the system climate.
- Ability to apply knowledge and understanding: The student must demonstrate the ability to interpret hydrological and currentmetric data and to obtain information on vertical stratification and horizontal and vertical velocity fields; To identify the different dynamical regimes that characterize ocean and marginal sea and surface waters at all depths.
- Autonomy of judgment: Students must be able to independently evaluate different situations wrt the standard ones presented by the teacher during the course, and to adopt the best resolution methods.
- Communicative Skills: The student must have the ability to present the course material within an oral examination using the correct scientific language.
- Learning Skills: Students must be able to continue their education in the future through the consultation of texts and publications (mainly in English) in order to acquire the ability to deepen the key topics of Physical Oceanography.


Knowledge provided by the courses of:
- Calculus I and II
- Physics I and I


- Chemical-physical properties of sea water.
- Balance of water, salt and heat balance in ocean basins.
- Introduction to Oceanic Dynamics.
- Equation of continuity. Equations of motion; Major forces in the oceanic dynamics; Coriolis's force. Scale analysis of the equations of motion and their most important approximations: traditional approximation, geostrophic balance and its degeneracy.
- Ekman spiral, drift currents.
- Large scale ocean circulation.
- Winds prevailing at the Earth's surface.
- Global wind-driven circulation: subtropical and subpolar gures, Antarctic circumpolar current. Sverdrup's balance.
- Potential vorticity and its conservation.
- Westward intensification.
- Thermohaline circulation: thermocline theories; Intermediate and deep water formation.
- Open ocean vorticity equation, justification of deep western boundary currents.
- The global ocean conveyor belt.
- Global Teleconferences: El Nino-Southern Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation.
- Mediterranean counterparts of the large-scale ocean circulation mechanisms.

Teaching Methods


- notes and presentations available on the e-learning portal
- for the descriptive part: "Descriptive Physical Oceanography: an introduction, by GL Pickard and WJ Emery (pre-2011 editions).
- for the dynamics part: any dynamical oceanographic book, including the one by R Stewart downloadable from the web: oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/ocng_textbook/PDF_files/book.pdf

Learning assessment

Oral examination, with an initial threshold question on an example of geostrophic balance in the ocean.

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