Applied Physical Oceanography Modeling & Acoustics

Course length:

3 Days



Course dates

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This three-day course is designed for engineers, physicists, acousticians, climate scientists, and managers who wish to enhance their understanding of this discipline or become familiar with how the ocean environment can affect their individual applications. Examples of remote sensing of the ocean, in situ ocean observing systems and actual examples from recent oceanographic cruises are given.

Other web-based resources include acoustic demonstration podcasts and iPod apps to conduct acoustic measurements. The student will also be armed with Internet resources for up-to-date information on sonar systems, undersea sound propagation models, and environmental databases. The student will leave with a clear understanding of how the ocean influences undersea sound propagation and scattering.

What You Will Learn:

  • The physical structure of the ocean and its major currents.
  • The controlling physics of waves, including internal waves
  • How space borne altimeters work and their contribution to ocean modeling
  • How ocean parameters influence acoustics
  • Models and databases for predicting sonar performance

Course Outline:

  1. Importance of Oceanography. Review oceanography’s history, naval applications, and impact on climate.
  2. Physics of The Ocean. Develop physical understanding of the Navier-Stokes equations and their application for understanding and measuring the ocean.
  3. Energetics Of The Ocean and Climate Change. The source of all energy is the sun. We trace the incoming energy through the atmosphere and ocean and discuss its effect on the climate.
  4. Wind patterns, El Niño and La Niña. The major wind patterns of earth define not only the vegetation on land, but drive the major currents of the ocean. Perturbations to their normal circulation, such as an El Niño event, can have global impacts.
  5. Satellite Observations, Altimetry, Earth’s Geoid and Ocean Modeling. The role of satellite observations are discussed with a special emphasis on altimetric measurements.
  6. Inertial Currents, Ekman Transport, Western Boundaries. Observed ocean dynamics are explained. Analytical solutions to the Navier-Stokes equations are discussed.
  7. Ocean Currents, Modeling and Observation. Observations of the major ocean currents are compared to model results of those currents. The ocean models are driven by satellite altimetric observations.
  8. Mixing, Salt Fingers, Ocean Tracers and Langmuir Circulation. Small scale processes in the ocean have a large effect on the ocean’s structure and the dispersal of important chemicals, such as CO2.
  9. Wind Generated Waves, Ocean Swell and Their Prediction. Ocean waves, their physics and analysis by directional wave spectra are discussed along with present modeling of the global wave field employing Wave Watch III.
  10. Tsunami Waves. The generation and propagation of tsunami waves are discussed with a description of the present monitoring system.
  11. Internal Waves and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Sensing Of Internal Waves.The density stratification in the ocean allows the generation of internal waves. The physics of the waves and their manifestation at the surface by SAR is discussed.
  12. Tides, Observations, Predictions and Quality Control. Tidal observations play a critical role in commerce and warfare. The history of tidal observations, their role in commerce, the physics of tides and their prediction are discussed.
  13. Bays, Estuaries and Inland Seas. The inland waters of the continents present dynamics that are controlled not only by the physics of the flow, but also by the bathymetry and the shape of the coastlines.
  14. The Future of Oceanography. Applications to global climate assessment, new technologies and modeling are discussed.
  15. Underwater Acoustics. Review of ocean effects on sound propagation & scattering.
  16. Naval Applications. Description of the latest sensor, transducer, array and sonar technologies for applications from target detection, localization and classification to acoustic communications and environmental surveys.
  17. Models and Databases. Description of key worldwide environmental databases, sound propagation models, and sonar simulation tools.

From this course you will obtain the knowledge of the ocean environment, its controlling physics, acoustic propagation, in situ and remote sensing ocean observations and applications to naval operations and climate change


Dr. David L. Porter 

is a Principal Senior Oceanographer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL). Dr. Porter has been at JHUAPL for twenty-two years and before that he was an oceanographer for ten years at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dr. Porter’s specialties are oceanographic remote sensing using space borne altimeters and in situ observations. He has authored scores of publications in the field of ocean remote sensing, tidal observations, and internal waves as well as a book on oceanography. Dr. Porter holds a BS in physics from University of MD, a MS in physical oceanography from MIT and a PhD in geophysical fluid dynamics from the Catholic University of America.



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