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The University of Southampton

SOES3010 Large Scale Ocean Processes and Climate

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This module provides develops understanding of the large-scale processes that determine global ocean circulation and ultimately Earth’s climate. The module introduces and applies three complementary frameworks: water masses; Lagrangian trajectories; numerical models. These are used separately and together, to explore how the ocean evolves physically, how it moves, and its role in climate..

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Quantify large-scale ocean processes in terms of water mass transformation
  • Apply Lagrangian diagnostics to understand ocean circulation and mixing
  • Understand the utility of numerical ocean models for simulation and prediction
  • Understand ocean-atmosphere-cryosphere interactions, in relation to climate and sea level
  • Synthesize observations and models to explain the ocean’s key role in climate change


The module will explore processes that determine the physical state and circulation of the World Ocean. Observations and model data will be used together with a water mass transformation framework and virtual particle tracking, to explore how the ocean is forced to move and mix. Following a review of fundamental equations governing ocean physics and dynamics, the principles underpinning and guiding numerical ocean models will be covered. This guides an introduction to the ocean-atmosphere and ocean-cryosphere interactions that influence climate and sea level, and how these interactions are modelled to predict climate. Computer based practicals and example sheets will underline key concepts in the module.

Special Features

This module may be available to students on both the final year of four-year undergraduate programmes, and to postgraduate taught master's programmes.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal Lectures (22 x forty-five minutes): will provide the underlying theory of large scale ocean processes (waves, hydrographic data, ocean circulation and processes, boundary layers, and ocean/shelf interactions and processes.) Practical sessions: practicals will exemplify the theory and allow you to develop your mathematical, analytical and data analysis skills. Several practical sessions will use the rotating table to illustrate key concepts. Tutorial Support: will be available within scheduled sessions. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Independent Study112
Follow-up work4
Practical classes and workshops12
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 40%
Mini-Project 60%

Linked modules


To study this module, you will need to have studied the following module(s):

SOES2010Physical Oceanography II
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