Oceans and seas

Advances and Primary Research Opportunities in Physical Oceanography Studies (APROPOS)

May 19, 2012, 6:16 pm

Advances and Primary Research Opportunities in Physical Oceanography Studies (APROPOS) was  a workshop for physical oceanographers held at Monterey, California from December 15–17, 1997. The goal was to evaluate the current status of research in physical oceanography and to identify future opportunities and infrastructure needs. Similar workshops were held at the time for biological oceanography (sf OEUVRE), ocean chemistry (FOCUS) and marine geology and geophysics (FUMAGES).

Future directions and problems spelled out in the final report included:

  • Difficulties inherent in global climate prediction wherein the decadal timescale only allows scientists to observe a few realizations in their lifetimes, and the need to circumvent this by  expanding the current database and framing hypotheses about past climate change and ocean circulation using paleoceanographic studies;

  • Need for better understanding the ocean’s role in the hydrologic cycle;

  • Advancements on fundamental issues such as the causes of the temperature–salinity relationship, thermocline maintenance, and interhemispheric water mass exchanges;

  • Increasing use of observational tools such as satellites and tomography to obtain large-scale, detailed and long-term measurements of the oceans;

  • Emerging issues concerning connections between large– and small–scale motions, e.g. between small–scale turbulent mixing and large–scale meridional overturning circulation;

  • Better understanding of the processes involved in cross–shelf transports;

  • Increased understanding of inland waters such as estuaries, wetlands, tide flats and lakes will probably lead to progress on the general circulation problem;

  • Unraveling the connections between the spatial and temporal distribution of turbulent mixing, the large–scale meridional overturning circulation, and climate variability;

  • Radical advances in knowledge of the structure of the ocean on scales between the mesoscale (50 kilometers) and the microscale (less than 10 meters) via the use of towed and autonomous vehicles; and

  • General circulation model components greatly in need of improvement include deep convection, boundary currents and benthic boundary layers, the representation of the dynamics and thermohaline variability of the upper mixed layer, fluxes across the air–sea interface, diapycnal mixing and topographic effects.

Further Reading:

  • Physical Oceanography Index


(2012). Advances and Primary Research Opportunities in Physical Oceanography Studies (APROPOS). Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/51cbecdb7896bb431f68e083


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