CEOAS Physical Oceanography is seeking students with a strong background in physics, mathematics, or applied sciences to study with us. Research areas include:

- turbulence and ocean mixing
- internal waves and nonlinear dynamics
- coastal processes
- climate and large scale dynamics
- physical/biological interactions
- numerical modelling and techniques
- instrumentation development
- ocean observations all over the world (examples include Hawaii, Chile, Spain, Taiwan, NJ, NC, WA and of course Oregon and more)

Most students accepted for study receive Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA) covering tuition and living expenses.
Numerous GRA openings are available in the above areas and more starting Fall 2018.
Contact individual faculty members or Roger Samelson (Phys-O admissions rep) for more information.

Apply here.

Links to websites of recent graduates

Find out more: Select Research Opportunities for Students.

Are you an undergraduate with background in physics, math or engineering? Check our our Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program. Contact any faculty member and we'll create a project just for you!

The academic program in physical oceanography at OSU offers Master's and Ph.D. degrees in Oceanography with a concentration on physical oceanography. The course curriculum is closely integrated with the wide range of physical oceanographic research conducted by OSU Physical Oceanographers. During the first year, students take a course on descriptive physical oceanography and a comprehensive 3-quarter course sequence on Geophysical Fluid Dynamics. First-year students may also take interdisciplinary courses in other oceanographic disciplines, as well as courses offered in the Mathematics Department at OSU. During subsequent years, students can choose from courses on a wide range of physical oceanography topics, including turbulence, geophysical waves, stability of geophysical fluid flows and coastal and estuarine oceanography. Technique oriented courses are also offered on topics including experimental methods in physical oceanography, satellite remote sensing, data analysis, numerical modeling and data assimilation. Brief overviews of each physical oceanography course are given below.

*Courses that are normally offered every year are marked with an asterisk. All other courses are usually offered alternate years.

(4 credits). Fundamental principles of fluid circulation in the atmosphere and ocean. Atmospheric chemistry, radiation, thermodynamics, and dynamics. Conservation of mass, heat, momentum and vorticity in the ocean; equations governing motion; geostrophy; planetary boundary layers; wind-driven and thermohaline circulation. Air-sea fluxes and global circulation models; climate change. Offered annually. Lec/lab. Reference text: Stewart, R., Introduction to Physical Oceanography, free via www 2007; Open University Course Team, Ocean Circulation, Pergamon; or similar. Prereq: One year each of physics, chemistry, calculus, or science background and permission of instructor; field course.

(3 credits). Circulation of the coastal ocean including continental shelf circulation, upwelling, coastal jets, undercurrents, coastal-trapped waves. Fundamentals of surface waves and tides; tsunamis, wind generation, breaking waves. Estuary classification and circulation patterns; shallow-water processes and beach morphology. Reference Text: Open University, Waves, Tides and Shallow-Water Processes, Butterworth-Heinemann, 1999. Prereq: One year of college physics, one year calculus.

(4 credits). Fundamentals of fluid dynamics: conservation laws of mass, momentum, and energy; inviscid and viscous flows; boundary layers; vorticity dynamics; irrotational and potential flow. Reference text: P Kundu, Fluid Mechanics, Elsevier 2004; Batchelor, G. K., An Introduction to Fluid Dynamics, Cambridge, 1967; or similar. Prereq: One year of college physics; mathematics through differential equations and vector calculus.

(4 credits). Dynamics of rotating and stratified fluids, potential vorticity, geostrophic motion. Reference text: Pedlosky, J., Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Springer, 1987; Gill, A., Atmosphere-Ocean Dynamics, Academic, 1982; or similar. Prereq: OC 670

(4 credits). Theory of steady and time-dependent large-scale circulation in ocean basins. Effects of earth's curvature: the beta-plane approximation. The wind-driven Sverdrup circulation, western boundary currents, eastern boundary upwelling; the effects of friction. Linear theory and nonlinear theory; inertial gyres. Effects of buoyancy forcing; heating, cooling, evaporation, precipitation; density stratification. Wind- and buoyancy-forced circulation in the thermocline; ventilation. Potential vorticity conservation and homogenization. Reference text: Samelson, R. M., The Theory of Large-Scale Ocean Circulation, Cambridge University Press, 2011; Pedlosky, J., Ocean Circulation Theory, Springer, 1996; Salmon, R., Lectures in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Oxford, 1998; or similar. Prereq: OC 670 and 671.

(4 credits). Fundamental mass, force and energy balances of the ocean: geostrophy; planetary boundary layers; wind-driven and thermohaline circulation; vorticity; air-sea fluxes of heat, salt, moisture and momentum. Application of these balances through descriptive examination of the ocean: global heat budget; surface current systems; abyssal circulation. Study of variability on a variety of time and space scales. Instrumentation and platforms used for observing the ocean. Prereq: OC 430/530 or OC 670, or AtS 415/515.

(4 credits). Governing equations, turbulent kinetic energy, vorticity dynamics; turbulent transports of mass and momentum; statistical description of turbulent flows, spectral dynamics; turbulent boundary layers, planetary boundary layers in the atmosphere and ocean, convective mixed layers, stable boundary layers; deep ocean turbulence. Reference text: Tennekes and Lumley, A First Course in Turbulence, MIT Press, 1972; or similar. Prereq: OC 670.

(4 credits). Review of theoretical models of ocean circulation, including shallow water, barotropic, quasigeostrophic, and primitive equation models; adjustment times, internal length and time scales; the role of advection, bathymetry and coastlines; global models, basin models, regional models and models of jets, eddies and boundary currents. Review of numerical techniques and problems specific to ocean modeling. Local facilities are used to develop models on remote supercomputers. Prereq: OC 670, MTH 625, MTH 626 or equivalent, and a working knowledge of FORTRAN.

(4 credits). Survey of methods for combining oceanographic observations and observing systems with numerical models of ocean circulation. Topics include: finite-dimensional least squares theory with inequality constraints, optimal interpolation, the representation theory of smoothing; the Kalman smoother and filter; gradient descent methods for minimization; spatial and temporal regularity of filters and smoothers; linear theory of array design; nonlinear optimization, practical assimilation methods. Prereq: Strong background in linear algebra and advanced calculus, geophysical fluid dynamics, numerical modeling of ocean circulation.

(3 credits). Theory and applications of satellite remote sensing observations of the ocean with emphasis on strengths and limitations in the measurements. Topics include review of electricity and magnetism, absorption and scattering in the atmosphere (radiative transfer), satellite orbital mechanics, measurements of ocean color, infrared remote sensing, microwave radiometry, scatterometry, and satellite altimetry. Prereq: MTH 252, PH 212 or equivalent.

(1-4 credits to be arranged). Subjects of current interest in Physical Oceanography, not covered in depth in other courses. May be repeated on different topics for credit.

(4 credits). Baroclinic instability: linear and nonlinear stability problems; models of Eady and Charney. Instability of parallel shear flow: linear inviscid theory; Rayleigh's theorem; nonlinear contour dynamics; effects of stratification; Taylor-Rayleigh-Bernard problem; nonlinear models; the Lorenz equations, chaos and strange attractors. Geostrophic turbulence: resonant Rossby wave interactions; energy and enstrophy. Instability of nonparallel flow: Arnold's criteria. Prereq: OC 670.

(4 credits). Fundamentals of wave dynamics applied to geophysical fluids. Hyperbolic waves: linear and nonlinear; characteristics; shock waves. Dispersive waves: linear waves, dispersion relations, group velocity; isotropic and anisotropic dispersion; nonlinear solitary waves. Application to geophysical waves: surface gravity, capillary, internal gravity, Kelvin, planetary, coastal. Prereq: OC 670.

(4 credits). Theory of techniques for data analysis in the time and space domains with applications to real and simulated oceanographic and atmospheric data. Topics include Fourier analysis, probability and statistics, correlation analysis, regression analysis, objective mapping, interpolation, filtering, empirical orthogonal function and principal component analysis, sampling errors, confidence intervals, and significance tests. Lecture notes are provided for each topic. Reference text: Emery and Thomson, Data Analysis Methods in Physical Oceanography. Permagon 1997; Priestly, M. Spectral Analysis and Time Series. Academic Press 1992; Press et al, Numerical Recipes: The Art of Scientific Computing, Cambridge University Press 1992 Prereq: MTH 341, MTH 342, MTH 418, ST 314, OC 608 or consent of instructor, and working knowledge of Matlab, IDL or Fortran. Offered alternate years.

(4 credits). Theory of techniques for data analysis in the frequency and wavenumber domains with applications to real and simulated oceanographic and atmospheric data. Topics include Fourier analysis, probability and statistics, sampling theory, one-dimensional autospectral analysis, coherence and phase cross-spectral analysis, multidimensional autospectral analysis, wavelet analysis, confidence intervals, and significance tests. Lecture notes are provided for each topic. Reference text and Prereq: same as OC 682; Offered alternate years.