Oceans and seas

Bourne, William

November 10, 2011, 10:15 am

William Bourne (1535?–1582 AD) was a British innkeeper who wrote what some consider to be the first popularization of the extent ideas constituting that which we now consider to be the field of oceanography.

This article is written at a definitional level only. Authors wishing to expand this entry are inivited to expand the present treatment, which additions will be peer reviewed prior to publication of any expansion.

In this book, entitled "A booke called the Treasure for Traveilers, deuided into fiue Bookes" and published in 1578, he invoked the primum mobilus concept (a theory of literally a ``first mover'' expostulated by Aristotle that was used to explain a perceived general broad pattern of westward flow in the world oceans) as the driving force beyond the movement of the moon, but also ascribed to the moon itself some unknown power responsible for the observed tides and steady currents (whose complexity beyond the steady westward flow of the primum mobilus he also deemed partially due to the distrupting presence of land masses).

Bourne’s picture of the flow in the Atlantic started with the general westward flow around the southern tip of Africa merging with that in the Atlantic, with the combined volume being too great to squeeze through the Strait of Magellan. Thus part of the flow was diverted northwards along the South American coast, into the Gulf of Mexico, and then out between Florida and Cuba and eastwards towards Europe. He also proposed a second type of steady, non–tidal current that flows against the wind during periods of strong winds, with the driving force being a hypothesized upward tilt of the sea surface downwind caused by waves piling up water there.

See Also

Further Reading

  • Physical Oceanography Index
  • R. G. Peterson, L. Stramma, and G. Kortum. Early concepts and charts of ocean circulation. Prog. Oceanog., 37:-115, 1996.


Baum, S. (2011). Bourne, William. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/150749


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