The marine environment is very heterogeneous. This module introduces students to the key physical and biogeochemical factors shaping marine and coastal environments and ecosystems, and how they operate at global, regional and local scales. The module will discuss and explain processes and linkages across the atmosphere-ocean and land-sea boundaries, including how these are affected by human modification of ocean and coastal environments and anthropogenic climate change.
Module will run
Autumn Term 2019-20
The marine environment is very heterogeneous. Marine ecosystems are affected and shaped by a variety of forces including waves, currents and climate. In turn, processes in the sea affect local and regional climates and so play a key role in determining how the planet responds to human-induced global change. This module introduces students to the key physical and biogeochemical factors shaping marine and coastal environments and ecosystems, and how they operate at global, regional and local scales. The module will discuss and explain processes and linkages across the atmosphere-ocean and land-sea boundaries, including how these are affected by human modification of the coastal environment. It will also examine natural climate variability and the impact of rising greenhouse gas concentrations and climate change on the coupled atmosphere-ocean system, including increasing seawater temperature, sea level rise, shifting current patterns, and ocean acidification. Throughout the course we will explore the possible effects of these changes on marine ecosystems and human society.
Module learning outcomes
Understand how marine ecosystems are affected and shaped by a variety of physical forces including waves, currents and climate.
Demonstrate an understanding of some of the linkages between physical, chemical and biological processes in marine and coastal environments.
Appreciate some of the actual and possible effects of climate variation and climate change on marine ecosystems, and understand some of the feedbacks between the marine environment and climate.
Have gained some experience with sampling of marine sedimentary communities, including identification of species of infauna.
Academic and graduate skills
This module provides fundamental knowledge of the two way linkages between atmospheric and ocean processes and how these in turn affect marine ecosystems and human societies. There is particular emphasis on how human activities are influencing the ocean and coastal environments and how we might manage these influences in the future.
Written skills will be tested through both assessments and employers will specifically look for evidence that these are well-developed. The ability to read and summarise scientific papers is a particularly valuable skill for those continuing in academia as well as other professions.
This module will also provide practical skills in designing and conducting field based surveys of benthic communities and related physical parameters. Training in species identification will also be provided in the subsequent laboratory based practical and students will have a chance to develop their analytical and data presentation skills in the coursework assignment.
% of module mark
University - closed examination Ocean and Coastal Science
Special assessment rules
% of module mark
Essay/coursework Essay: 3000 words
Written feedback will be provided on all submitted coursework reports within 4 weeks of submission. There will also be the opportunity for students to meet the course convenor to discuss performance in the exam.
Pinet, PR. 2009. Invitation to Oceanography – 5th edition. Jones & Barlett. 626 pp.
Denny, M. 2008. How the Ocean Works: An Introduction to Oceanography. Princeton University Press. 320 pp.