Core Course | 6 ECTS | Námskeið: CMM 31

Kennari: Angelika Renner

Um námskeiðið

In this course, you’ll learn the basics of how the ocean works. We start with the physical setting and look at the formation of ocean basins and their main features. Then we look at water, fresh and salty, its properties and how they structure the ocean environment. To understand how the water is moving in the ocean, we dive into atmosphere and ocean dynamics: from air movement (aka wind) to surface ocean currents, subsurface dynamics, and deep circulation. We cover how waves and tides form and behave. Finally, we discuss the role of the ocean in the climate system both on geological time scales, the more recent past, and in the current and future development.


I am a polar physical oceanographer with a passion for frozen, salty water. I have a strong interdisciplinary background with a Diploma in Marine Environmental Sciences from the Carl-von-Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany, and a PhD from the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey in the UK. Now based at the Institute of Marine Research in Tromsø, Norway, I focus on upper ocean processes around Svalbard in the Arctic and the northwestern Weddell Sea in the Southern Ocean. I am most intrigued by interaction between different areas, whether that’s between atmosphere-ice-ocean or between different disciplines (e.g. physics, biology and chemistry or social sciences). My research is mostly observation-based, and I feel most at home onboard a research vessel in ice-covered seas!

More about me

"Passionate students, passionate teachers, the best university team – there’s a reason I come back year after year!"


The course provides a descriptive introduction to physical processes in the ocean. Students will be given a broad introduction to the history of ocean sciences, ocean physiology, the basic physical and chemical properties of seawater, as well as an introduction to the basic principles of ocean circulation, mixing, tides and waves. Interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean, the ocean’s role in the heat budget, and connections to anthropogenic climate change will also be discussed. At the end of the course students will be able to explain the basic physiology of the ocean and will be able to use their knowledge for coastal and marine management.

On completion of the course, a student:

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