Introduction to observational physical oceanography, Benin, West Africa | POGO

Introduction to observational physical oceanography, Benin, West Africa

Since 2017, Prof. Ursula Schauer, of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany, has run an annual one-week course in Observational Oceanography as part of the existing master program in Physical Oceanography at the International Chair in Mathematical Physics and Applications (ICMPA - UNESCO CHAIR) at the University D’ABOMEY – CALAVI, Cotonou, Benin, West Africa. 

 

The ICMPA master program Physical Oceanography was established in 2008 and is jointly organised by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)/ Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS) in Toulouse, France, and the University D’ABOMEY – CALAVI in Cotonou, Benin. The course provides the opportunity for 10 students of West-African countries with a background in physics or engineering to specialize in physical oceanography. The master program includes comprehensive teaching of fluid dynamics, dynamical oceanography, thermodynamics and remote sensing; lectures on in-situ observations of physical ocean system were not included until Prof Schauer's course started in 2017.

 

As part of a POGO training initiative, this course was supported by POGO in 2018, and will be also funded in January 2019.

 

The course aims to provide a comprehensive introduction into Observational Physical Oceanography. It extends over one week with lectures and exercises in the morning and in the afternoon. At the end, the students take a written exam. The scores will contribute to the overall CIPMA master assessment.


Specific topics include:

  • Introduction into physical properties of water and of sea water;
  • principles of in-situ measurement of temperature and salinity;
  • observational platforms; principles of ocean currents in-situ measurements;
  • basics of underwater acoustics and the use of acoustics for ocean observation and data transmission;
  • search, download and use of existing data from open databases such as Pangaea, World Ocean Data Centre, Argo;
  • introduction to Ocean Data View (ODV) for data visualisation.

 

The lectures were interspersed with little exercises for the students; the most prominent exercise was the development and presentation of their own small observational research proposal.

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