IUGG Quadrennial Report Overview: Physical Oceanography



To a great extent, this U.S. physical oceanographic report to IUGG (1979–1982) focuses on advances made in large-scale oceanography. Reviews are presented for the areas of equatorial oceanography, subtropical gyre studies, polar oceanography, mid-latitude variability, and oceanic heat flux. The last topic is a common thread that runs through all the reviews since there is the realization that the ocean is an essential element in determining the climate of the earth. With increased concern over the coastal zone as a region where recreational, commercial energy, and fisheries interests overlap, a great deal of effort has also going into investigating the oceanography of the continental margins. Since no review of coastal oceanography occurred in the last report, this report has an extensive discussion of what has been learned in the last eight years. The benthic boundary layer, for the same reasons, has received considerable attention, and a review is dedicated to this. What appears as bothersome noise to the investigator of the large scale can be interesting physics in itself. The disciplines of wriggly lines are being put on firm physical basis as discussed in the reviews on small-scale physics and internal waves. In each of these areas advances have come as a result of new instrumentation, new measurements, and new ideas. Often progress has been slowed because of the inability to observe phenomena in their entirety. Remote sensing promises to be a great aid in that respect. The work during the last four years in that area has shown these techniques to be invaluable for studying phenomena from small to large scales. Unfortunately, the main payoff from remote sensing avails new satellites that use sensors such as the altimeter operationally. In the short overview that follows, no individual works are mentioned. These can be found by reference to the appropriate review.