320 Coastal Oceanography

The goal of this 5-credit class is to give students an understanding of coastal and estuarine processes, focusing on their geology and water circulation, with a brief overview on how these shape chemical and biological systems. The lectures start with basic principles that define the structure of coastal environments, the fluid and sediment force balances, and then work toward their application in coastal systems. Later lectures cover applied topics of concern to human populations living at the coast and using its resources, such as sea-level rise and harmful algal blooms. Lectures will be complemented with a weekly laboratory session in which the concepts presented in lecture are integrated through experimental activities, data analysis projects and student-led reading and discussion.

By participating fully in this course students will be able to:

  • Describe the geological processes that create different coastal morphologies
  • Be conversant with the primary types of coastal environments and understand their distribution around the globe
  • Define the physical forcing and understand fluid-dynamic consequences of surface gravity waves, tides, tidal currents, and estuarine circulation
  • Identify the major drivers of coastal currents, and be able to describe the physics that link drivers to coastal upwelling/downwelling
  • Explain the interaction between the physical forcing, sediment transport, and morphology in different coastal environments
  • Comprehend the interactions between geological/physical processes and their chemical/biological consequences in the coastal ocean, including: biological productivity driven by upwelling, contributions of coastal dynamics to ocean acidification and hypoxia, evolution of coastal benthic habitats.
  • Be conversant with the main issues of concern to scientists, regulators, and stakeholders in coastal and estuarine environments.

This is the second in a three-quarter series of 300 level interdisciplinary core courses for Oceanography majors.