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What is Oceanography?
“Oceanography” is a term used for the scientific study of all aspects pertaining to oceans, seas, and other bodies of water. It is divided into particular fields such as marine geology, ocean biology, or physical chemistry. A “marine ecologist,” for instance, would be an expert in studying plants, animals and microbes that live in oceans—from microscopic plankton to giant whales.
The oceans and sea are the greatest reservoirs of Earth’s atmosphere. About 93% of the planet’s water is stored in the oceans, with an average depth of about 1.3 miles (2.8 kilometers). This vast supply of water moderates the planet’s temperature by absorbing solar radiation, regulates climate patterns such as monsoons, and serves as a circulating pump to keep oxygen and other gases in our atmosphere from dispersing into space.
For centuries, humans have exploited the Earth’s oceans for food, transportation, and other benefits. Now we are inviting humans to disrupt the serenity of our seas by using them as waste dumps and disrupting the underwater ecosystems in which more than 550 different species of plants and animals live. For example, oceanographers recently discovered that Spain’s Balearic Sea is being invaded by Lebanese cucumbers. But it is not just human activity that lowers the quality of ocean water—uncontrolled pollution is also a threat.
Branches Of Oceanography
“Oceans cover more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface. They cover four-fifths of our planet’s water surface, contain one-third of the world’s ice volume, and are home to well over half of all life on Earth.” — World Ocean Day
1.Physical Oceanography: Physical oceanography is the scientific study of physical properties and processes in oceans such as temperature, salinity and currents. Examples include temperature variations in parts of the oceans (e.g. Gulf Stream, Gulf of Maine), the movement of water masses on the global scale (e.g. thermohaline circulation) and the role played by salinity in both biological and chemical processes (e.g. marine carbon cycle).
2.Chemical Oceanography: Chemical oceanography is the study of chemical properties, processes, and interactions in oceans and other aquatic environments—typically including both the oceans and seas. Examples include the oxygen concentration in parts of the oceans (e.g. ITCZ, subtropical gyres, deep ocean basins), biogenic substances in the oceans (e.g. oxygen production by phytoplankton, carbon sequestration by sediments), and the accumulation of organic matter in bottom sediments.
3.Biological Oceanography: Biological oceanography is the branch of oceanography that studies marine organisms, including their physical environment and how they interact with it. Examples include the food chain of the oceans (e.g. production, predation), plankton composition and density in different parts of the oceans (e.g. distribution patterns), and marine biochemical processes (e.g. nitrogen fixation).
4.Geophysical Oceanography: Geophysical oceanography is the study of physical processes such as earthquakes, tsunamis, geomagnetic fields and waves in the oceans. Examples include the effect of tides on Earth’s rotation, the structure of Earth’s magnetosphere and its influence on plasma physics, and the generation and propagation of acoustic waves in the oceans.
5.Marine Geology: Marine geology is a category of oceanography. It entails seafloor, islands, reefs and similar features found on the bottom of seas and oceans. This field encompasses both seafloor and sub-seafloor geomorphology (including sedimentary processes). Marine geologists seek to understand how these features formed, as well as their structure, composition, etc. Examples include island building processes (e.g., coral atoll), volcano structure (e.
Benefits Of Oceanography
One reason oceanography is such a fascinating field of study is because it teaches us a lot about our planet. In fact, it can teach us about other planets in our solar system, too! You might be surprised to learn that there are benefits to learning this particular science. They include;
- It helps us to study ocean waves, currents, and drifts and use satellites for a more accurate diagnosis than before
- Helps to create an accurate forecast of the weather by understanding how the oceans work
- It helps to map the ocean floor, which is essential for environmental protection
- Help in studying microbes in the ocean and also study their distribution
- Helps to find ways of controlling pollution from ships at sea
- Provides a better understanding of global climate change
- Beneficial for coastal communities as it helps with planning for shoreline development
- Helps in monitoring changes in the distribution of fish stocks
- Helps to protect marine life by identifying regions of high or low levels of radioactivity
- Help to discover new species and also find out where oil is located under the sea floor
- Helps with the collection of water samples for testing
- It helps to locate resources of oil and gas around the coast
Units Studied Under Oceanography As a Subject
- Ocean currents
- Oceans waves
- Tides and tides-tidal theories
- Atmospheres of the sea, water temperature
- Water density
- Coral reefs
- Pollution studies
- Coral atolls
- Deep sea animals and plants
- Sea life and its distribution
- Physical oceanography
- The ocean as an ecosystem
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