What is Physical Oceanography?

Physical oceanography is the study of physical conditions and processes within the ocean, especially the motions and physical properties of ocean waters. Major components of physical oceanography include the dynamics of ocean currents, the variability of these currents on time-scales from seconds to millennia, ocean wave phenomena, the distribution of heat and salt and their transport through the ocean basins, and the exchange of momentum, heat, and freshwater between the ocean and the atmosphere. Physical oceanography has important applications in global climate, oceanic mixing, and coastal studies, but is only one of several sub-domains into which oceanography is divided; others include biological, chemical, and geological oceanography.


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