Applied Physical Oceanography



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This two-day course covers the physical (emphasis on physics) concepts and some of the mathematical background of this exciting field of oceanography. It is designed as a primer for the professional who wants to learn more about the broad field of physical oceanography. There will be a strong emphasis on understanding the basic ocean processes. The course begins with a description of how the ocean system works and the basic governing equations. Other topics range from fundamental small waves to planetary-scale ocean currents, as well as some of the instruments employed to measure them, e.g., Satellite Altimetry. Additional subjects include boundary layers, waves, tides, Ekman flow, and the Gulf Stream. Also studied will be the ocean processes that impact our climate such as El Niño and the Thermohaline Conveyor Belt. It concludes with some research in tide measurements and a discussion of the ‘smaller’ seas, such as the Arctic Ocean!

Course Outline:

 Course outline

  1.  Importance of oceanography
  2. Physics of the ocean
  3. Energetics of the ocean and climate change
  4. Wind patterns, El Niño and La Niña 
  5. Satellite observations, altimetry, earth's geoid and ocean modeling
  6. Inertial currents, Ekman transport, western boundaries 
  7. Ocean currents, modeling and observation 
  8. Mixing, salt fingers, ocean tracers and Langmuir circulation 
  9. Wind generated waves, ocean swell and their prediction 
  10. Tsunami waves
  11. Internal waves and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensing of internal waves
  12. Tides, observations, predictions and quality control
  13. Bays, estuaries and inland seas
  14. The future of oceanography
  15. Models and Databases


Who Should Attend:


This two-day course is de­signed for engi­neers, physicists, acousticians, climate scientists, environmentalists, and managers who wish to enhance their understand­ing of this discipline or become famil­iar with how the ocean environment can affect their individual applications.  For example, a marine radar expert could learn that ‘sea clutter’ is actually a ‘signal’ from the radar return from capillary waves. 


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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SCHEDULING: If this course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses and you are interested in attending this or another course as an open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or Please indicate the course name, number of students who wish to participate. and a preferred time frame. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a 3-5 month lead-time. To express your interest in an open enrollment course not on our current schedule, please email us at

For on-site pricing, you can use the request an on-site quote form, call us at (410)956-8805, or email us at

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