Physical oceanography

A photo of the beach

Solve the mathematical equations that describe fluid flow

What are the impacts of climate change likely to be? How accurately can we predict the spread of an oil spill? These are some of the many questions that oceanography tackles. Physical oceanography involves the measurement, modelling and prediction of processes that form the oceanic and atmospheric system. These processes range from waves and deep ocean currents to cyclones, dust storms and climate change.

At the undergraduate level you'll study mathematics and physics in our physical oceanography or advanced physical oceanography majors. Our postgraduate offering caters to graduates in science, engineering and related disciplines who are seeking advanced training in the theory and understanding of physical processes in the ocean. 

Contribute to the preservation of our environment

In a time when environmental issues are of great concern, there are a number of career opportunities in physical oceanography including research, operations and management.

  • In research, you could expect to work within the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, universities or government agencies on how to develop and maintain state-of-the-art mathematical models that are used to understand and predict our environment.
  • A more hands-on approach to oceanography is found in the operational aspect. You might focus on collection of data and interpretation of ocean/atmosphere variability with a view to advising agencies on environmental management. Agencies interested in these skills include the Sydney Waterboard and the Environmental Protection Authority.
  • Finally, there is the decision-making or managerial aspect of oceanography. Fisheries or oil companies require management trained in these areas to liaise with scientists and develop policies that require an understanding of the complex issues that surround the long-term preservation of our environment.

Environmental study areas

If you're passionate about the environment, studying science is a great way to have a meaningful impact through almost all disciplines. In addition to physical oceanography, you might be interested in studying biologyclimate scienceEarth scienceecology, environmental managementgeography or marine & coastal science.

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