OCEAN 351 Foundations of Ocean Sensors

This course gives students foundational knowledge of the methods used to observe ocean characteristics – what sensors measure, why they work, what are the requirements to use them properly, and what insights can be gained from the resulting data.  

The material has dual emphases on conceptual understanding and hands-on skills. Among the key concepts that will introduced or revisited from previous courses are:

  • Key conserved quantities relevant to oceanography, such as mass, energy and momentum
  • Relationships between conserved quantities and rates of change, fluxes, and gradients
  • Fundamental principles in physics, chemistry and biology by which sensors operate
  • Relationships between sensor measurements and models or tests of hypotheses about oceanographic mechanisms

The practical skills elements of the course enable students to understand and critically assess the design and execution of ocean instrumentation, including large scale sensing systems such as the Ocean Observatory Initiative’s Regional Scale Node. Students will learn to design and construct their own equipment for measuring and monitoring the marine environment. Among the skills that will be introduced or revisited from previous courses are:

  • Design, construction and use of basic electrical circuits used in oceanographic sensors
  • Inference of oceanographic mechanisms from measurable quantities
  • Basic setup and use of microcontrollers such as arduinos to acquire and archive sensor data
  • Sampling requirements for scientifically informative ocean observations, including calibration, replication and spatial/temporal resolution 

Prerequisites: OCEAN 215; OCEAN 285. Offered: W.