Physical oceanography

Definition

Physical oceanography is the study of the physics of marine systems. It includes the distribution of temperature and salinity, water mass formation and movement, ocean currents, interior and surface mixing, energy inputs and dissipation, surface and internal waves, and surface and internal tides.

Latest Research and Reviews

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    Observations show that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is slowing down, and this is predicted to continue in response to climate change. This isn’t the only change expected; tracing ocean circulation within a climate model now shows that the locations where water sinks to the deep ocean to feed the AMOC will also shift in the future.

    • Veronica Tamsitt
  • Comments and Opinion |

    Biological communities beneath Antarctic ice shelves remain a mystery, hampering assessment of ecosystem development after ice-shelf collapse. Here we highlight major gaps in understanding of the patterns and processes in these areas, and suggest effective ways to study the ecological impacts of ice-shelf loss under climate change.

    • Jeroen Ingels
    • , Richard B. Aronson
    •  & Craig R. Smith
  • News and Views |

    While anthropogenic influence on global climate is clear, human impact on the Southern Ocean has been difficult to pin down. A new detection and attribution study achieves just that.

    • Nathaniel L. Bindoff
    Nature Geoscience 11, 803–804
  • News and Views |

    Will the Southern Ocean’s relentless waves undo Antarctica’s ecological isolation? The discovery of a wayward piece of kelp and a simple numerical experiment set new expectations for the potential invasion of Earth’s most isolated continent.

    • Nathan F. Putman