CMM20 Core course 4 ECTS
Period W48 - W49 24.11.14-05.12.14
Instructor  Angelika Renner


The course provides a descriptive introduction to physical processes in the ocean. The students will be given a broad introduction to the history of ocean sciences, the physical setting of the oceans, the basic physical and chemical properties of sea water, basic principles of ocean circulation and mixing in the ocean, tides and waves. We will also discuss interactions between atmosphere and ocean, the ocean’s role in the heat budget, and connections to anthropogenic climate change.
At the end of the course, the students will be able to explain the basic physical processes in the ocean and use their knowledge of ocean physics for coastal and marine management.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the students will be able to:

  • explain and use oceanographic terminology
  • describe the basic physical and chemical properties of sea water
  • demonstrate basic principles of density and wind driven circulation in the ocean
  • sketch simple explanations of basic models for ocean circulation, e.g. geostrophic circulation or Ekman transport
  • provide an elementary explanation for tidal forcing
  • distinguish and classify different types of waves
  • design, carry out, and evaluate basic lab experiments and communicate the results
  • discuss the ocean’s role in the climate system and with respect to coastal and marine management issues.


Participation* – 10%
Designing, conducting, analysing, and documenting a scientific experiement – 25%
Presentation of a scientific topic – 20%
Written exam at the end of the course– 45%

* This includes participation in class, during lectures and activities, and in discussions before and after classes; particular weight will be put on the quality of contributions.


Angelika Renner is a physical oceanographer and sea ice physicist at the Institute of Marine Research in Tromsø, Norway. She holds a Diploma in Marine Environmental Sciences from the Carl-von-Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany, and received her PhD from the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey in the UK. This was followed by a postdoctoral position at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø, Norway. While her PhD investigated the variability of large-scale ocean currents in the Southern Ocean and the implications for the ecosystem, her current research focusses on small-scale processes in the sea ice-ocean boundary layer and effects on the large-scale distribution of sea ice thickness in the Arctic. Angelika’s work is based on observations obtained in the field, however, she has a strong interest in the challenges of integrating those observations in the development of satellite remote sensing products and the improvement of sea ice and ocean models.

Guest lecturer

Further reading

Invitation to Oceanography 6th ed. (4th and 5th eds. can work as well). 7th edition will be published in October 2014, and can be used.