Graduate Studies in Physical Oceanography

The physical oceanography group at UConn’s Department of Marine Sciences includes eight faculty members: Frank Bohlen (emeritus), Heidi Dierssen, James Edson (emeritus),  Ed Monahan (emeritus), Jim O’Donnell, Cesar Rocha, Leonel Romero, and Mike Whitney.

A common thread of their various research interests is an emphasis on understanding fluid dynamics in the coastal environment, but the collective expertise of the group touches on a wide range of physical oceanographic phenomena. As a result, M.Sc. and Ph.D. students in the department gain a broad exposure to the essential subdisciplines of physical oceanography in addition to their in-depth research training.

As well as continued sea-going observational work facilitated by the R/V Connecticut, our research techniques include numerical circulation simulations, inverse modeling, analytical and theoretical studies, laboratory experiments, the development of in-situ instruments, and satellite data analysis.

Graduate study in physical oceanography at UConn combines quality teaching in the comfortable and personalized setting of the Avery Point campus together with opportunities for involvement in a variety of outstanding research projects. Our integration with the other strengths of the department in biological and chemical oceanography gives us a unique flavor among physical oceanography graduate programs.

In addition to regularly scheduled seminars and special topic courses, we offer the following physical oceanography courses:


MARN 5060 Dynamic Physical Oceanography
Global energy balance. General circulation in the oceans and atmosphere. Thermodynamics and stability. Fundamental fluid mechanics. Surface gravity waves. Geophysical fluid mechanics. Tides and other long waves. Theories of global circulation.

MARN 5061 Advanced Dynamical Oceanography
Ocean thermodynamics; dynamics of rotating; homogeneous fluids; ocean circulation; western boundary currents; the thermocline, oceanic fronts.

MARN 5062 Sediment Transport
The mechanics of sediment transport with particular emphasis on the processes governing transport in coastal and estuarine areas. Initiation of motion for cohesive and noncohesive materials, bed and suspended load transport, bed forms, sediment-flow interactions, modeling considerations.

MARN 5063 Estuarine Circulation
The physical characteristics of estuaries, river and tidal interactions, turbulence and mixing, salt balance, circulation dynamics, mass transport and flushing, modeling considerations.

MARN 5064 Air-Sea Interaction
Processes controlling the exchange of momentum, heat and mass across the air-sea interface. Topics include atmospheric and oceanic stratification, wind-wave-current interaction, wave breaking, bubble generation, heat budgets, flux parameterizations and instrumentation.

MARN 5065 Physical Oceanography
Overview of physical properties and dynamics influencing the oceans and coastal waters. Descriptions of global water property distributions, the surface mixed layer, pycnocline, surface heat fluxes, and major ocean currents. Introduction to dynamics of ocean circulation, waves, tides, and coastal circulation.

MARN 5066 River Influences on the Marine Environment
Influences of rivers on estuaries, coastal and open ocean water properties, energy budgets and ecosystems including inputs of buoyant waters, sediments and pollutants and variability from storms, seasons, human alterations and climate change.

MARN 5067 Synoptic Meteorology
Fundamental processes of atmospheric synoptic meteorology, including the governing equations of motion, atmospheric stability, quasi-geostrophic theory, extratropical cyclogenesis, and frontogenesis.

MARN 5200 Oceanographic Data Analysis
Programming, data input/output, and graphing with advanced scientific analysis software. Analysis of temporal and spatial patterns in oceanographic datasets using multivariate regression, harmonic analysis, Fourier and wavelet transforms, empirical orthogonal functions, and three-dimensional mapping.

MARN 6001 Mathematical Models in Marine Sciences
Examples of the formulation of quantitative models of marine systems with a review of some particularly useful mathematical methods (differential equations, operational methods, numerical solution techniques), emphasizing the computation of predictions.

MARN 6002 Mathematical Models in Marine Sciences: Practicum
Individual term projects relating to mathematical modeling in the marine sciences.

For more information please contact.

Michael M. Whitney Associate Professor of Marine Sciences