spring 2020

BIO-2516 Ocean Climate - 10 ECTS

Last changed: 04.05.2020

The course is provided by

Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics


Tromsø |

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester. Concerns only admission to singular courses. Exchange students and Fulbright students: 1 October for the spring semester and 15 April for the autumn semester.

Type of course

The course is available for students at the study program Biologi, klima og miljø, Miljøledelse og forurensningsbiology and exchange students at a biology study program. Students from other Departments for instance geology and physics are also welcome. The course is available as a singular course.

Students are encouraged to also take BIO-2010 Marine ecology and BIO-2513 Marin biodiversitet (Please note! Norwegian taught course)

Admission requirements

Nordic applicants: Admission requirements are generell studiekompetanse + REALFA. Application code: 9336

International applicants: Higher Education Entrance Qualification and certified language requirements in English. A list of the requirements for the Higher Education Entrance Qualification in Norway can be found on the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education website - nokut.no  

All applicants: Basic knowledge in physics and mathematics is an advantage.

Course content

The course provides a descriptive introduction to physical processes in the ocean and the oceans role in the climate system. The students will be given an introduction to the physical setting of the oceans, the basic physical and chemical properties of seawater, basic principles of ocean circulation and mixing in the ocean, tides and waves. We will discuss interactions between atmosphere and ocean, the oceans role in the global heat budget and the climate system, and connections to anthropogenic climate change. Lectures will be supplemented by laboratory exercises and seminars to further explore the most important physical processes. The course includes a scientific cruise to fjords in the nearby region (Troms, Lofoten). The students will get experience in handling oceanographic instruments for data acquisition and programming for data analysis, and will produce a cruise report. At the end of the course, the students will be able to explain the basic physical processes in the ocean and the oceans impact on the climate system, and use their knowledge of ocean physics to analyse and interpret oceanographic data.

Objectives of the course

At the end of the course, the students will be able to:


  • explain and use oceanographic terminology
  • describe the basic physical and chemical properties of sea water
  • demonstrate basic principles of density and wind driven circulation in the ocean
  • sketch simple explanations of basic models for ocean circulation, e.g. geostrophic circulation or Ekman transport
  • provide an elementary explanation for tidal forcing
  • distinguish and classify different types of waves
  • discuss the ocean’s role in the climate system


  • search for relevant oceanographic literature
  • use scientific literature to obtain relevant information
  • make standard oceanographic observations
  • analyse oceanographic data and interpret the results

General competence:

  • design and conduct a small-scale oceanographic project
  • communicate and collaborate in a larger group
  • handle stressful environments such as research vessels at sea
  • develop scientific writing and presentation skills
  • develop critical thinking

Language of instruction

The language of instruction is English and all of the syllabus material is in English. Examination questions will be given in English, but may be answered either in English or a Scandinavian language.

Teaching methods

Lectures, laboratory exercises, seminars, student projects, research cruise


3 hour written exam (60% of final grade), seminar presentation (20% of final grade), student project (20% of final grade). Letter grades A-F where A-E are required to pass, F is fail.

In order to sit an examination, the student must complete and gain approval for any coursework requirements.

Coursework requirements: approved cruise report and laboratory report.

Re-sit exam
Students who fail the exam will be able to take a re-sit exam. In the re-sit exam the grades from the seminar presentation and the student project (ordinary exam) will apply, and there will only be one new written exam.

Date for examination

Written examination 05.06.2020

The date for the exam can be changed. The final date will be announced in the StudentWeb early in May and early in November.


Course overlap

BIO-2514 Marine ecology 1.5 stp
BIO-2510 Basic Physical Oceanography 8 stp
GEO-2010 Marine Geosciences 1.5 stp

Recommended reading/syllabus

Pensumliste for BIO-2516 Ocean Climate