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1.1: What is Oceanography?

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    What is oceanography?

    Oceanography includes the branches of science that deal with the physical and biological properties, and observable phenomena of the world oceans and seas. This oceanography course covers many aspects associated with other disciplines including physical geography, geology (including earth history and astronomy), chemistry, meteorology, biology and ecology. Perhaps most important, human interactions, include general history, exploration, exploitation, and some of the many environmental factors affecting our modern global civilization.

    Earth from Space
    Figure 1.1. Earth is an oceans planet!

    Map of the Seafloor of the world
    Figure 1.2. Map of the ocean basins of the world.

    What do ocean scientists do?

    • Ocean scientists study all aspects of the marine physical environment (geology, chemistry, biology).
    • Oceanographers map the seafloor and work with navigation and remotely sensing ocean basin regions.
    • Marine geologists study seafloor rocks and sediments.
    • Marine scientists work in environmental fields: climate change, waste management, resource protection.
    • Marine engineers work in construction and engineering: archeology, foundations, offshore drilling.
    • Marine scientists serve in national security and are involved in public health and safety.
    • Marine scientists study coastal erosion hazards, waves, currents, storms.
    • Marine biologists study study all aspects of the marine food chain from microbes to megafauna.
    • Marine scientist are involved in all forms of shipping, port management, and marine-related industries.
    • Ocean scientists in education: schools, parks, museums, and media
    Monterey Bay
    Figure 1.3. Image of coastal and marine bathymetry and land topography of the central California region showing San Francisco Bay, Monterey Bay and Monterey Canyon offshore.

    Many states and cities also have agencies that employ marine scientists. Scientists are involved in all aspects of management of water resources, coastal and marine wildlife resources and fisheries. They conduct natural hazard investigations. They work for organizations involved with with offshore energy extraction and with shipping and port management. Many teachers in public schools and colleges have degrees in marine sciences! For instance, in California, many marine scientists are employed are employed by the CA Department of Conservation, and are employed by the branches of the University of California marine research programs.

    Federal organizations conduct oceanographic research and employ many marine scientists. Note that the abbreviations for these agencies are used throughout this website.
    Name and Abbreviation website
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) www.noaa.gov
    US Geological Survey (USGS) www.usgs.gov
    Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) www.fws.gov
    National Park Service (NPS) www.nps.gov
    National Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA) www.nasa.gov
    Department of Agriculture (DOA) www.usda.gov
    Department of Defense (DOD) www.dod.gov
    Department of Energy (DOE) www.doe.gov
    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) www.epa.gov
    Center For Disease Control (CDC) www.cdc.gov
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