Università degli Studi di Napoli "Parthenope"

Teaching schedule

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FALCO Pierpaolo
First Semester
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Course description

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 knowledge provided by the courses of : Physics 1, Physical Oceanography and Meteorology


Introduction, Purpose and Course Context. Planet Earth Climate Analysis based on IPCC reports. Physical structure of the polar oceans. Formation, distribution and ice concentration in the oceans. Thermo-physical properties of sea ice. Classification of sea ice. Polyneas areas: latent and sensible heat polynya, Baia Terra Nova polynya. Typical polar continetal shelf water masses typical and formation of deep and bottom waters.
Recalls: Ekman's theory, Sverdrup. Wind-induced current. Southern ocean circulation: Antarctic circular current (ACC) and schematic representation of zonation. General circulation in the Arctic.
Circulation in the Ross, Weddell and Greenland Sea. Global Thermohaline Circulation

Climatic state of the planet

Physical strcuture of the polar oceans

Sea ice

Areas of polynya in the two poles.

The Southern Ocean

The Antarctic seas

The Arctic Ocean

Thermoaline variability in the Arctic area

Teaching Methods

Lectures in Italian


- 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

Learning assessment

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.

More information

The slides for each course year can be downloade from the e-learning site.
Please write me an email to take an appointment


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