Work in Progress

Ocean Circulation in Three Dimensions

by Barry A. Klinger and Thomas W. N. Haine

Global Geostrophic Surface Circulation
[Click here for better image]

Introductory textbooks in physical oceanography focus on the two-dimensional circulation represented by the basin-scale horizontal gyres. In recent decades, the field has made great advances in understanding the large-scale three dimensional flow field, including the deep overturning circulation, exchange between the subtropics and the equator, the relation between wind-driven and thermohaline circulation, and the importance of mesoscale eddies. We believe these advances can be made accessible to a wider audience. To that end we are writing a graduate textbook aimed at students in physical oceanography as well as students and researchers in related disciplines such as atmospheric science, chemical and biological oceanography, and climate.

The book is organized around a series of conceptual themes. Each chapter begins with a survey of observations, with special effort made to show direct evidence of circulation features, such as the surface currents shown above, rather than schematic representations. The observational survey is followed by a conceptual section which outlines ideas which help explain the observations. The relationship between gyre circulation and shallow overturning cells, illustrated below, is an example of such an idea. Finally, the chapter provides mathematical derivations based on the concepts. This structure is designed to make it easier for nonspecialists to be introduced to the key ideas in the study of the general circulation, while providing mathematical tools for more in-depth study. The book also points out the relevance of physical features to the biology and chemistry of the ocean and to climate.

See drafts of chapters.

Cambridge University Press will be publishing the textbook. George Mason University granted Barry Klinger received a "study leave" to work on the book during the Fall 2010 semester. Please contact Barry Klinger with any questions or suggestions concerning the book.

Three dimensional wind-driven circulation. (a) Idealized zonal wind stress as a function of latitude. (b) curl of wind profile shown in (a). (c) Meridional volume transports given by Sverdrup relation, Ekman transport, and geostrophic component of the Sverdrup flow. (d) Schematic showing barotropic gyres and Ekman/geostrophic cells (SubTropical Cell and SubPolar Cell).

Last modified: 11 February 2011