CLIM 752: Ocean General Circulation (Spring 2017)

Instructor: Barry A. Klinger (

Class schedule: Tue,Thu 10:30-11:45, Innovation Hall rm 139.

Messages to Class

Course Description:

The goal of the class is to better understand the general circulation of the ocean and how it influences climate. In order to understand the ocean's role in climate, we must go beyond barotropic models to understand the three dimensional ocean circulation. Some questions examined by the class: What determines the strength of the deep meridional overturning? What determines the locations of deep water formation in the global ocean? Can the large-scale structure of the ocean undergo catastrophic change? How does the wind generate shallow overturning cells? How might overturning cells contribute to climate variability? What are the relationships between overturning, heat transport, and atmospheric temperature?

While a moderate amount of math is necessary to describe most of the topics, the focus of the class will be on principles and concepts rather than mathematical techniques.

Current Semester Tentative Schedule

Lecture Notes:

Note: a single "lecture" my encompass more than one class period.

Lecture 1: Introduction to Class [1/25/17]
Lecture 2: Heat Transport and Streamfunctions [1/26/17]

Wind-Driven Gyres (See Klinger and Haine Chapter 2)

Vertical Structure of Upper Ocean


Deep Overturning Circulations

Problem Sets:

Problem Set 1
Data file: Atlsect26.mat
Data file: Pacsect26.mat


All material in class is covered in lecture notes, which are the basis of a new textbook:

Klinger and Haine, 2011: Ocean Circulation in Three Dimensions
Drafts of Chapters

Other useful books are:

Pedlosky, 1996: Ocean Circulation Theory, Springer-Verlag.
Schmittner, Chiang and Hemming, eds., 2007: Ocean Circulation, Mechanisms and Impacts, American Geophysical Union
Siedler, Church, and Gould, ed., 2001: Ocean Circulation and Climate, Academic Press
Tomczak and Godfrey, 1994: Regional Oceanography: An Introduction , Pergamon Press
Van Aken, 2007: The Oceanic Thermohaline Circulation, An Introduction, Springer.

Climate Dynamics Curriculum
AOES Dept Home Page
Klinger Home Page
George Mason Academic Policies

Last modified: 26 Jan 2017