Studies & Degrees in Oceanography
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Oceanography refers to the study of seas and oceans, estuaries, their boundaries and their various geographical nuances, coastlines, coastal and deep sea dynamics, marine life and the ocean bed. Oceanography is by itself a vast subject and there are various areas of specialization that come under the umbrella of oceanography. When you apply to study oceanography at colleges or universities, you must make a decision on the area of specialization that best interests you.
Qualifications Needed / Acquired
Oceanography is a challenging subject and requires its students to be able to grasp information as vast as the seas themselves. To be able to take up a course in oceanography, you must have a functional knowledge of biology, chemistry, geology, meteorology and physics, as this is an interdisciplinary subject. You need to be passionate about the specialization you choose as it will otherwise become an extremely challenging field of study.
Here are the broad categories of courses offered by oceanography departments of universities:
- Geological oceanography explores the dynamics of the ocean crust which is much thinner compared to that of land masses. The tectonic activities of ocean floors, sedimentation over millennia and the changes in ocean beds over particular time periods, etc, are all explored.
- Biological oceanography explores marine life, the ecosystem, plants and animals (from mono-cellular plankton to blue whales) and the evolving food systems in the seas. You will also study how marine beings are adapting to physical and geological changes in their environments.
- Chemical oceanography deals with the chemical changes in coastal and deep-sea waters. You will study chemical changes that occur over a few nanoseconds to those that take place over thousands of years. The solubility of various chemicals and their effects on marine ecosystems are all scrutinized here.
- Physical oceanography deals with elements like tides, water currents, waves, transmission of light and sound across the waters, interactions between the oceans and the atmosphere and other such factors.
Oceanography is a subject with comparatively limited employment opportunities. As a student of oceanography, you will mostly find employment with research facilities owned by private agencies or governments. You will have ample on-field work ahead of you and desk jobs at labs are also available.
Geological researches are employed to study the sedimentation of ocean beds and entails collections of sample and data, usage of sophisticated equipment to get your data in line. In all, this could mean long hours out on and in the seas and oceans you study.
Marine geochemists or chemical oceanographers may be employed by environmental departments to study the effects of pollution on the oceans, study desalination of the water, etc
Physical oceanographers can be asked to engage in tasks like measure the temperature changes in the water bodies and the effects of the same on marine ecology, waves and tidal densities and ocean-coast and ocean-atmosphere interactions.
Marine engineers and archeologists employ their knowledge for practical purposes like excavating ship wrecks, controlling the effects of hazardous events like oil spills and the like.