The course aims to provide the students with the necessary knowledge to understand the functioning of the poles from a physical point of view, with the ultimate aim of providing them with the tools to understand the role of poles in both the climate system and in the overall observed global climatic.
Knowledge and understanding skills: The student must demonstrate that he has understood the main forces that regulate the dynamics of large-scale polar areas circulation, as well as the formation and transformation processes of the main water masses and eventually how these processes characterize the global thermoaline circulation.
Ability to apply knowledge and understanding: The student must be able to apply the basic physical oceanography laws to polar oceans. They must also be able to evaluate, in general terms as well, the possible impact of both forcing and the main physical parameters variability, on large-scale processes such as global thermoaline circulation
Evaluation autonomy: At the end of the course, students will have to be able to evaluate what are the main mechanisms that regulate the polar dynamics and of the neighboring basins, and how the variability of these mechanisms can influence the stability of the climate system in these regions
Communicative Skills: Students at the end of the course will have to be able to describe and represent, with an appropriate language ownership, the main mechanisms that govern the physical oceanography of polar oceans.
Learning ability: The course covered topics are certainly the theoretical basis that will allow students to address new topics (reading scientific articles or text books dealing with themes of a higher level of specificity than the ones discussed and learned during the course) to allow for an in-depth study of aspects and subjects typical of the polar oceanography and, where required, to update their knowledge autonomously
It is necessary to acquire and assimilate the knowledges provided by the courses of : Physics 1, Physical Oceanography and Meteorology
Introduction, purpose and context of the course. Average temperature of the globe, precipitation, climatic variations. Physical structure of the polar oceans. Ice formation, distribution and concentration in the oceans. Thermo-physical properties of sea ice. Sea ice classification. Air-sea interactions: heat flows at the air-ice-sea interface. Formation of dense waters. Buoyancy equation. Polynya areas: latent heat and sensible heat polynya, Terra Nova polynya. Typical water masses of polar platforms.
Recalls: Ekman theory, Sverdrup. Wind induced currents. Circulation in the Southern Ocean: Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and schematic representation of zoning. General circulation in the Arctic.
Circulation in the Ross Sea, Weddell and Greenland. Global thermohaline circulation.
- Planet Earth Climate description based on IPCC reports
- Physical structure of the polar oceans;
- Formation, distribution and concentration of sea ice in the oceans;
- Thermo-physical properties and classification of sea ice;
- Polar Polynya areas: characteristics and mechanisms of generation.
- Typical water masses of the Antarctic polar continental shelf and formation of deep and bottom waters;
- Southern Ocean circulation: the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), hydrological structure and dynamics
- Circulation and formation processes of water masses in the Ross and Weddell Seas
- General circulation in the Arctic and in the marginal seas
- Convection processes in the Nordic and Labrador Seas
- Formation of North Atlantic Deep Water
- Thermoaline variability in the Arctic Zone: The Case of Great Salinity Anomaly
- Polar Oceans from Space. Author : J. Comiso. Publisher: Springer
- The Drift of Sea Ice. Author: M. Lappäranta. Publisher: Springer
- The role of the Ocean Circulation and Climate: a 21 Century Perspective. Authorsi: G. Siedler, S.M. Griffies, J. Gould e J.A. Church. Publisher: Academic Press (Elsevier)
- Lesson Slides
The exam is aimed at verifying the achievement degree of the educational targets.
For the students attending the course, two written tests, one in the middle of the course and the other at the end, will be given. The final exam score is determined adding the two scores obtained from the two tests. The exam is passed if the final score is equal to or higher than 18. For students who want to increase the vote there can be an oral question on the whole program that can give up to 3 more points if the answer is correct. In the event that a student can do only one written test, he can make an oral exam (if the test done is passed) only on the topics covered by the test not done. In this case as well, the final score is given by the sum of the two partial scores.
For students who do not intend to make the tests or for those who have not attended the course, the exam consists of a single oral exam.
The slides for each academic year, can be downloaded from the e-learning site