Oceanography: Exploring Earth's Final Wilderness

Rated 5 out of 5 by from coprehensisve overview This is a comprehensive over view of oceanography. Prof.Tobin uses clear understandable language and defines special terms whenever used. He speaks with energy that shows his enthusiasm for the subject. I would definitely recommend this course as a good starting point. The video protion of the course is extremely well done.
Date published: 2020-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding & Informative Great instructor, and the material was well laid out and interesting
Date published: 2020-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Big on science ... Short on visuals This is the first course I was disappointed with, hoping for a visually exciting course which, I must state, this is not. The professor clearly knows the material and presents it well but the emphasis is on the science and scientific terms of the ocean and is overwhelming and, frankly, a bit dry. Yes, I did learn more than I expected but am having trouble finishing the course ( which is a first for me with course from the Great Coures). Unless you want to understand the science of the ocean in depth (no pun intended) this course is not for you.
Date published: 2019-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Answers a lot of questions. At the end of each chapter I want to keep going. I have questions that I can't wait to get answered in future chapters.
Date published: 2019-03-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very poor speaker The content of the course is fascinating, but the professor is a poor speaker. Multiple times in every single lecture he says "things like that" or "you know." No I don't know; that's why I watching the course. Many of the graphs seem to be taken straight from publications are are nearly impossible to read on a TV screen. Moreover the professor does not point to what is pertinent on the graphs, or on diagrams, frequently. He also makes several incorrect statements. In lecture 32 he says that an example of Doppler shift is when train sounds louder when it approaches and softer after it passes by. No, it is the frequency of the sound that changes not the amplitude. He says something about a position a few "knots" away from the Gulf Stream. Anyone who has been to sea ought to know that a knot is a unit of speed, not of distance. There is an extremely annoying hi-ptiched sound every time a word appears on the screen.
Date published: 2018-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good solid course on the oceans I bought this course because I live near the ocean, always have, yet did not have a lot of in depth knowledge about this massive subject. This course had a lot of straightforward, good knowledge presented in an engaging manner. Professor Tobin was easy to watch and this course was not dry. I would suggest pairing this course with TGC's recent new offering on Life in the World's Oceans - watch this one first, as it has more in depth information on the ocean's and the other course focuses on the micro subject of animal/plant life in the oceans, with some amazing footage from the Smithsonian. The background you get in this course makes you enjoy the course on Life in the World's Oceans even more.
Date published: 2018-08-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fascinating but suffers from over direction Fascinating subject, Professor Tobin delivers the course with a clear passion for his subject. Unfortunately the video download version suffers from over direction! Constant camera angle changes and closing in shots, this gets distracting & annoying. The professor is engaging enough to just talk to camera without the constant movement.
Date published: 2018-07-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Comprehensive and well presented for its level. As with so many subjects, time has produced great volumes of new information and new thinking. Which makes almost any of the selections form The Great Courses sure to be interesting for people with increasingly longer spans since student days. Wonderfully, much of this material is from more recent decades. We now gain information more and more rapidly with each new decade than we did longer ago. Much is new and more integrated than not only "back then", but even recently. Even though this course is more introductory than for professional development, this course presents much wealth that scholarly efforts have produced since the subject was new to me. It is much more than a review. It has much that almost anyone interested in the subject should find new and worth learning about. It is not simple to rate a thing that is not perfectly simple; giving top marks of five stars seems meaningless hyperbole. Let me just rate this course honestly as very well worth the cost and time spent for material at this level.
Date published: 2018-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Introduction and overview of oceanography I ordered this series to complement topics in our homeschool curriculum. After having covered several years of studies about the seashore and marine life, as well as frequent visits to marine environments, they wanted more and I thought this course would engage them more deeply. The lectures fascinated them immediately and they remained so for the entire year watching one lecture per week. My husband and I also found them interesting and informative. Dr. Tobin presented the topics in a manner that held the attention of advanced degree adults and young children at the same time. Although some of the scientific concepts and formulas were difficult for the children (7 and 8 years old), they gained a firm understanding of the richness and complexity of oceanography with a strong desire to continue learning.
Date published: 2018-06-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I learnt a lot from this This are very interesting. Learning about seabeds, underwater mountains and of course those awesome hydro thermal vents is a wonderful science. I agree the presenter could be a better speaker but otherwise it's great.
Date published: 2018-04-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Kind of soon to request a review So far we like the course a lot, but we've only seen a few of the lectures so far.
Date published: 2018-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Complete This course is very good. Covers so much. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2018-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing Breadth of Information Over the course of 36 lectures, Harold Tobin presents scientifically solid, easy to understand information on just about every major topic that falls under the heading of Oceanography - the physical and biological aspects of the world’s oceans. Viewers new to this subject will likely appreciate the time he takes to break down complex information and present it in a way that can be digested by people who don’t have a background in marine science. Viewers with an intermediate-level understanding of our oceans are likely to appreciate that in each lesson Professor Tobin focuses on one topic, or one interconnected set of topics, and explores the subject in depth. A look at the lesson titles provides an excellent indication of exactly what this course covers - and what it does not. Were I basing this review on the merits of the science and Dr. Tobin’s mastery of his subject alone, I would give it five stars without hesitation. However, and this is a matter I hope those helping to put All the Great Courses materials together will strive to improve, Tobin's presentation style was not as strong as it could have been. As other reviews have pointed out, there are simply too many “ums,” “wells,” “uhs,” pauses and false starts. It can be a bit like riding in a car where the driver continuously - and for no reason - keeps tapping the brakes. These verbal meanderings at times bog down his delivery, hence the criticism from some reviews that the lectures are “dull.” Indeed, they can be. Someone at The Great Courses should have worked with Professor Tobin to tighten this up. There is a second reason that this course didn’t achieve as high a rating as it might have. While in many instances the visuals - graphs, maps, illustrations, photographs and film clips - are effective, at other times they are lackluster or absent. The cost of these courses is generally very reasonable, and I don’t want to see that change. However, I suspect more could be done to create lectures with greater visual appeal. This applies not only to this course which was released in 2011, but to some of the more recent additions to The Great Courses Library as well. Criticisms aside, Harold Tobin packs an amazing breadth of information into these 36 lectures, and he does so in a manner that is accessible to novice and intermediate students interested in learning more about the world’s oceans, and who are interested in a better understanding of humankind’s interactions with and impact on our seas. Although seven years have gone by since this course was introduced, the information Professor Tobin presents remains accurate and relevant.
Date published: 2018-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very well presented I have gotten through about half the material and I am really impressed at the depth of knowledge that is disseminated by the professor. He keeps the subject matter interesting while still going into great depths when necessary
Date published: 2017-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! I think this could be the best course that I have taken. Excellent lecturer and extremely well presented.
Date published: 2017-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Overview of the Ocean. I really enjoyed this course. I still watch lessons from this course as I find the subject matter interesting. If you want to know how our world works, this is one of the courses you need to take.
Date published: 2017-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Oceanography It clearly an outstanding course. The format was clear and easy to understand?
Date published: 2017-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific course! I've watched over 100 of these courses, and this one stands in the very top tier. Every lecture, I found, had at least one new interesting surprise. When I was about 2/3 of the way through I happened to take a look at what others reviewers were saying about the course, and so I would like to just take a moment to disagree with some of those who posted negative comments. Some said that Tobin's speaking style is awkward, that he says "um" a lot, and other such things. I just think that's baloney. My theory is that such folks are either not interested in the subject, or suffering from a short attention span. As a former teacher I've seen plenty examples of both, and such comments bring back old memories.
Date published: 2017-05-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding overview Excellent overview of dozens of issues about the ocean. Part of it is very scientific and I found hard to follow, but he always explained the main, salient points clearly. Feels like I learned TONS of good information.
Date published: 2017-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Journey continues.... I found the course to be helpful from an environmental perspective, and to increase my understanding of our relationships with the planet. I enjoyed the presentation and scope of content. The course is well done and worth the time. You will be enlarged from the course.
Date published: 2017-04-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Solid Content; Poor Presentation This course did not live up to my high hopes and expectations. While the content was comprehensive and well-selected, I found Prof. Tobin's lecture style very ineffective. He was not nearly as polished a presenter as most TGC professors, and his various verbal ticks and lack of energy and passion really detracted from my enjoyment of the course. In short, he made what I think could be a very interesting and captivating course extremely dull. As a result, it took me a long time to force myself to grind through the lectures as I took lengthy breaks to view or listen to other courses along the way. Obviously mine is a minority view based on the other posted reviews, but, for me, this course was a major disappointment.
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love This! I just started these lectures and love them. They have something for everyone. I watch them with my grandchildren. And while they don't always understand all of the words, they learn something every time, and love to see all the great visuals and pictures. My 10-year-old granddaughter is interested in Marine Biology, and loves to watch these with me! A great investment in my learning and her potential future! Thank you!
Date published: 2017-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The most engaging course I've ever taken Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this course. It was cogent, well-presented, and absolutely fascinating. Professor Tobin's enthusiasm for his subject came through as if he were in our living room, and we were carried along. The many graphics are also excellent. We both now feel we're fairly well educated on the subject, which is a good thing because we live on Puget Sound, which has had, and continues to have, great challenges in maintaining water quality.
Date published: 2016-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Vast Field of Oceanography Have varied interests in life from law to sociology to science and environmental policy. I have had the pleasure of having taken college courses in marine biology and oceanography. No single course can be even an all inclusive. oceanographic survey. Now I confess that this is a field I love, and this is a great course. Considering that about 70% of the Earth is Ocean, and that the majority of the human population lives near the sea, and that the ocean is a priceless resource that we are ravaging, it behooves us all to understand the science of the oceans of our planet. Also, there are lovely videos under the sea.
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A truly Great Course Harold J. Tobin really managed to leave me in awe of our world's greatest and critical eco-system. We would not be here and will not survive without it. He navigates proficently, eloquently and comprehensively the impressive collection of current understanding while not hiding the fact that we have merely scratched the surface of our home planet. Those who expect drama and entertainment à-la Jacques Cousteau (which has its merits) will not be satisfied however. Professor Tobin is into the long haul which is much more inspiring and adding to our enlightenment. Two thumbs up! Where can I sign on to help get those deep water and sediment probes down?
Date published: 2016-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent survey of Oceanography This is an excellent course. Both the content and the presentation are just great, and so are the visual aids. Oceanography is an integrated science (integrating geology, physics, biology, meteorology and chemistry). This course manages to cover it all at a very high standard of quality.
Date published: 2016-10-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not what I expected This was my first course for the Great Courses.I ordered it on DVD. I had high hopes and really looked forward to it. I got through two discs and really wasn't looking forward to watching another session. I hold a Masters in Theology, so I have experience with different teaching styles. Professor Tobin didn't hold my interest and the information was often very technical. If you are really into the more minute details of science and geology, you might enjoy this more. Thankfully, Great Courses has a great guarantee and are swapping the course out for me. If you think you might have a different opinion, give it a try. You can swap it out if you don't like it.
Date published: 2016-09-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Drowned in Dullness This course fits in nicely among Teaching Company courses on geology, meteorology, ecology, and evolutionary biology since the geosphere, atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere are all closely connected and act upon one another, as Professor Tobin makes clear throughout. Unfortunately, it bored me. Part of this was my fault; the mechanics of waves and currents and of upwelling and down-welling interested me less than I expected. Other purchasers may not have this difficulty. I would have preferred more lectures on underwater life. The other part, however, was Professor Tobin’s poor lecture style. He has a tendency to interrupt himself with a lot of “ums” and “uhs,” to punctuate his remarks with “you know” (no I don’t know; that’s why I bought the course!), and to end lists of two or more items with the stock phrase “and things like that” (if there are other things, you should name them!). At least a few times he gets stuck on a syllable or word, like “be…be…be.” Tobin’s verbal stumbles and surplus phrases often extend lectures by an extra two minutes. Rather than get used to them I became increasingly annoyed. I own other courses with less-than-inspiring speakers, but I like the topics more than oceanography. So I have decided to return this course and devote my shelf space to some other Teaching Company product.
Date published: 2016-03-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from My First Course from TGC Oceanography was my first experience with The Great Courses. My interest in this course began when I saw an interview given by Bill Gates of Microsoft saying he'd viewed this particular course. I was hooked from the introduction. The topics included allowed me to have a first step into what was a fascination study of a world I thought I'd known but apparently did not. From the descriptions of the various geographic zones of the oceans to learning that plate tectonics was only widely understood in my own lifetime, I learned from every lesson. The only thing that could have been better would have been the quality of the graphics. I made mention of this in a letter to the company and they answered me by upgrading the graphics in later courses and that, is really a great response tot he customer. I have been waiting for a second more advanced course that expands and deepens my understanding of the topic and I will continue to hope that one is in the making because this course was and remains my favorite and I have over 70 of the courses so far.
Date published: 2016-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Oceanography: Exploring Earth's Final Winderness I read the other reviews first and was a little disappointed in any of the negatives ones. My own opinion is if you are interested in the Ocean this opens up doors to a world that is still being explored. If a person is looking for a degree they should go back to school but if they want information on a subject covered in these amazing lectures this is the go to place. Watching at one's leisure is enjoyable and relaxing. Yes, sometimes the professor did stumble on word(s) but it wasn't constant and didn't take away from the course. He knows the subject well and is not just a professor but is a veteran explorer as well. I love the fact that a guidebook comes with the course.
Date published: 2015-11-13
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Oceanography: Exploring Earth's Final Wilderness
Course Trailer
Diving In-The Ocean Adventure
1: Diving In-The Ocean Adventure

Begin your study of the ocean from every angle, examining Earth's watery realm in light of geology, biology, chemistry, meteorology, and other fields. In this lecture, survey the extent of the ocean and the approaches that oceanographers take to understanding it.

31 min
Explorers, Navigators, Pioneering Scientists
2: Explorers, Navigators, Pioneering Scientists

The early explorers of the ocean were interested in charting its islands, dimensions, and resources-and in using it as a highway for trade. Relive the exploits of these mariners, who included Europeans, Chinese, and Polynesians. Only later did scientific exploration of the ocean begin.

33 min
Ocean Basics and Ocean Basins
3: Ocean Basics and Ocean Basins

As recently as the 1950s, geologists envisioned the ocean basins as a submerged version of the continents. Explore the topography of the seabed, discovering that it is shaped by geological forces fundamentally different from those on land.

32 min
Mapping the Sea-Soundings to Satellites
4: Mapping the Sea-Soundings to Satellites

The ocean floor was once as mysterious as the surface of another planet. Investigate the technologies involved in measuring bathymetry, the undersea counterpart of topography. Weighted ropes and cables for gauging the depth of the sea have given way to sophisticated sonar from ships and radar from satellites.

34 min
Habitats-Sunlit Shelves to the Dark Abyss
5: Habitats-Sunlit Shelves to the Dark Abyss

Take a tour of organisms that live from the shallows to the ocean floor. Learn how to classify ocean zones, and discover the importance of temperature, chemistry, nutrients, light, and other factors for different life forms-from active swimmers to passive floaters and bottom dwellers.

32 min
The Spreading Sea Floor and Mid-Ocean Ridges
6: The Spreading Sea Floor and Mid-Ocean Ridges

What made the ocean floor the way it is? Trace the evidence that ocean basins are geologically young and that new oceanic crust is being continually formed at mid-ocean ridges, pushing and rifting continental plates in a process called plate tectonics.

33 min
The Plunging Sea Floor and Deep-Sea Trenches
7: The Plunging Sea Floor and Deep-Sea Trenches

Investigate subduction zones, where oceanic crust plunges beneath an overriding tectonic plate. These margins are associated with deep-sea trenches, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Examine other features, such as hotspots, which are a mid-plate phenomenon that includes the Hawaiian Islands chain.

32 min
The Formation of the Earth and Its Ocean
8: The Formation of the Earth and Its Ocean

Cover 9 billion years of cosmic history-from the big bang, to the accretion of the sun and planets, to the formation of Earth's oceans 4 billion years ago. The water in the oceans came from water vapor in volcanic eruptions and possibly from comet impacts.

30 min
The Early Ocean and the Origins of Life
9: The Early Ocean and the Origins of Life

Explore scenarios for the origin of life, which may have begun around deep-sea hot springs. The oceans have maintained roughly the same conditions over the entire history of life on Earth, even though the sea floor has renewed itself many times over through plate tectonics.

34 min
Marine Sediments-Archives of the Ocean
10: Marine Sediments-Archives of the Ocean

Ocean sediments are like tree rings that can be "read" as a history of the ocean and climate through time. Investigate the different sources of sediments, which range from products of erosion on land, to the remains of sea creatures, to ejecta from asteroid impacts.

31 min
Offshore Oil and Gas-Resources and Risks
11: Offshore Oil and Gas-Resources and Risks

Learn the origin of petroleum and natural gas deposits, which formed under very specific conditions in marine sediments. As an example of the challenges of oil recovery, survey the technology of deep-water drilling, focusing on the disastrous blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

34 min
The Enduring Chemistry of Seawater
12: The Enduring Chemistry of Seawater

Why is the sea salty? Why isn't it getting saltier? Probe these and other mysteries of ocean chemistry, looking at the remarkable stability and uniformity of seawater over time. Also study the role of water and the conjectured role of life in driving plate tectonics.

30 min
How the Physics of Water Controls the Ocean
13: How the Physics of Water Controls the Ocean

Analyze the surprising properties that keep the ocean liquid and make water the defining physical substance for life. Among them is its ability to retain heat, which has kept Earth in a narrow temperature range hospitable to life for billions of years. Also investigate the propagation of light in water and why the ocean is blue.

32 min
Waves-Motion in the Ocean
14: Waves-Motion in the Ocean

Chart the dynamics of wind-generated waves, which include almost all ocean waves. See how they form, grow in size, travel for thousands of miles, and then break on shore. The big waves preferred by surfers come from remote regions that have the ocean's stormiest weather.

30 min
Rogue Waves and Tsunami
15: Rogue Waves and Tsunami

Long considered a mariners' tall tale, abnormally high "rogue" waves are now well documented. Understand the physics of why they form and the yearly toll they take on shipping. Then study tsunami, or seismic sea waves, which are generated when undersea earthquakes displace huge volumes of water, often with catastrophic results.

32 min
Tides in Theory and Practice
16: Tides in Theory and Practice

Tides are caused by the gravitational attraction of the moon and, to a lesser extent, the sun. Learn that the timing and height of tides are far more complex than the daily motions of the moon and sun suggest-due to the influences of coastal features, the Coriolis effect, and other factors.

30 min
Marine Life, Energy, and Food Webs
17: Marine Life, Energy, and Food Webs

Trace the path of energy and food through oceanic ecosystems, which have a far higher turnover of biomass than the terrestrial equivalents. As a result, most of what grows in the oceans is very quickly consumed. Learn why warm, temperate seas are often nutrient-poor compared with polar waters.

34 min
Tiny Plankton-The Most Abundant Life on Earth
18: Tiny Plankton-The Most Abundant Life on Earth

Survey some of the many species of plankton, which are passive, floating, and drifting organisms. Microscopic plankton are ubiquitous throughout the oceans and represent all three of the basic biological domains: Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya.

31 min
Soft-Bodied Life in the Dark, Open Depths
19: Soft-Bodied Life in the Dark, Open Depths

Investigate the soft-bodied organisms that live at great depths and have no skeletons or shells. Little known until recently, this group includes a variety of creatures whose amorphous bodies are often destroyed by nets and who only came to light through studies from submersibles.

33 min
Swimming-The Many Fish in the Sea
20: Swimming-The Many Fish in the Sea

Contrasting with free-floating plankton, nekton are the ocean's swimmers. In this lecture, study the most numerous nekton-fish-focusing on their streamlining, gills, schooling, and other adaptations. Also, examine mollusks, including the octopus, squid, and nautilus.

34 min
Marine Birds, Reptiles, and Mammals
21: Marine Birds, Reptiles, and Mammals

Turn to the nekton among birds, reptiles, and mammals. These feature some of the most magnificent creatures on the planet, including albatrosses, Sooty Shearwaters, sea turtles, manatees, seals, sea lions, whales, and dolphins. Focus on the adaptations that allow them to thrive in marine environments.

34 min
Whaling, Fisheries, and Farming the Ocean
22: Whaling, Fisheries, and Farming the Ocean

Examine the economic exploitation of marine life, beginning with the history of whaling and continuing to the present, when fishing is the only significant source of hunted food. Weigh the alternatives of commercial fishing and mariculture in an era of rapidly declining fish populations.

34 min
Where Sea Meets the Land and Why Coasts Vary
23: Where Sea Meets the Land and Why Coasts Vary

Have you ever walked along a beach or stood on a high cliff overlooking the sea and wondered how the land got to be that way? Learn how erosion, deposition, sea-level change, plate tectonics, and other factors have produced the characteristic coastlines of the world.

32 min
Where Rivers Meet the Sea - Estuaries and Deltas
24: Where Rivers Meet the Sea - Estuaries and Deltas

River mouths, deltas, tidal inlets, fjords, and enclosed bays are places where freshwater and seawater mix. Explore these complex zones, which are among the most biologically productive ecosystems on Earth. Many marine organisms carry out key parts of their lifecycles in such environments.

30 min
Coastal Erosion-Beaches and Sea Cliffs
25: Coastal Erosion-Beaches and Sea Cliffs

Coastlines are constantly changing features. Examine what happens when structures are built to halt or reverse the change, especially at a time when sea level is rising. Most human-engineered solutions turn out to be short-term at best, and many have unintended consequences.

31 min
Tidal Life, Sea Forests, and Coral Reefs
26: Tidal Life, Sea Forests, and Coral Reefs

Begin your survey of the organisms and ecosystems that flourish in the most complex and varied part of the ocean: the benthic zone, or sea bottom. Start in the shallows, where life inhabits a wide range of niches-from the crashing waves of tide pools to placid mudflats.

32 min
Deep Bottom Life and Hydrothermal Vents
27: Deep Bottom Life and Hydrothermal Vents

Continue your investigation of the benthic zone by exploring the deep ocean bottom, where astonishing diversity exists in cold, darkness, and high pressure. Your tour includes sea cucumbers, brittle stars, herds of sea pigs, and the unique community around deep sea vents, which extracts energy from the Earth itself.

32 min
Trade Winds-The Circulation of Heat and Wind
28: Trade Winds-The Circulation of Heat and Wind

Explore another ocean-the ocean of air-which interacts with Earth's seas through the force of wind on water. Investigate the cause of wind patterns such as the trade winds, westerlies, and polar easterlies. Two crucial factors are uneven distribution of heat and the Coriolis effect due to Earth's rotation.

29 min
Heavy Weather-Storms and Hurricanes
29: Heavy Weather-Storms and Hurricanes

Gain insight into the world's largest storms by looking at the interaction of ocean, atmosphere, and land, and how it produces nor'easters, monsoons, and hurricanes. Focus on the life cycle of hurricanes-how they form, intensify, and often produce devastating storm surges, as happened during Hurricane Katrina.

34 min
The Gulf Stream to Gyres-Vast Surface Currents
30: The Gulf Stream to Gyres-Vast Surface Currents

Follow the chain of events that initiate surface currents in the ocean. Big currents such as the Gulf Stream are caused mainly by wind friction. The mapping of currents has been aided by incidents such as the accidental spill of thousands of floating bath toys in the Pacific in 1992.

32 min
Upwelling, Downwelling, and El Nino
31: Upwelling, Downwelling, and El Nino

Winds drive surface currents, and together wind and currents set in motion large-scale upwelling and downwelling. Study these patterns and the disturbances that lead to El Niño and La Niña cycles, which cause major disruptions in fisheries and weather.

32 min
The Deepest, Slowest River-Polar Bottom Water
32: The Deepest, Slowest River-Polar Bottom Water

While surface currents move a typical water molecule around an ocean basin in a year or two, down deep water circulates much more slowly, taking hundreds to thousands of years to make a circuit. Trace how dense, cold water masses from the polar regions slowly but inexorably move the great bulk of the ocean.

32 min
The Ocean and Global Climate
33: The Ocean and Global Climate

The ocean contains most of the heat in the ocean-atmosphere system, and surface currents distribute it around the planet. Begin your study of the ocean's reaction to increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is leading to climate change worldwide.

32 min
The Warming, Rising Sea
34: The Warming, Rising Sea

Learn that one conjectured effect of global warming-the shutting down of the Gulf Stream leading to a new ice age in Europe-is unlikely. But the planet is already on a path to melting glaciers and steadily rising seas, with catastrophic implications for low-lying populated areas.

34 min
Marine Pollution-The Impact of Toxins
35: Marine Pollution-The Impact of Toxins

Turn to the problem of marine pollution, which includes runoff from land and deliberate dumping, in addition to acidification from atmospheric carbon dioxide. Also look at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where plastic particles and other debris have concentrated in a rotating mid-ocean current.

34 min
The Future Ocean
36: The Future Ocean

Finish the course by looking into the future. Constant change will continue to be the state of the ocean, just as it always has been. But humans can promote change for the better in a variety of ways, including using the national park model to establish marine sanctuaries. Learn other choices you can make to help preserve this wonder of the planet.

36 min
Harold J. Tobin

We human beings have been fascinated with the ocean for millennia. Who among us has not stared out at the sea in wonder, wondering what is beneath the waves. What lies out there? What is it that makes the ocean the way that it is?


University of California, Santa Cruz


University of Washington

About Harold J. Tobin

Dr. Harold J. Tobin is Professor in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences and Director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington in Seattle. He earned his B.S. in Geology and Geophysics from Yale University and his Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Professor Tobin was named a Best Instructor by students at UW-Madison, and he was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. Among his other honors is NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center Group Achievement Award for contributions to the astronaut training program. A specialist in marine geology and geophysics, Professor Tobin has spent nearly a year-and-a-half of his life at sea on 10 oceangoing research expeditions. His seagoing work has also included dives to more than a mile below the surface in the submarine Alvin. Since 2004, he has been Chief Scientist for the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program's Nankai Trough Seismogenic Zone Experiment, an ongoing U.S.–Japan collaboration on the causes of submarine earthquakes and tsunami that is the largest scientific ocean drilling project in history. Professor Tobin has published more than 40 papers and articles in scholarly journals, and his work has been featured on television programs as well as in numerous magazine and newspaper articles.

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