Chemical Oceanography

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

This course gives a basic introduction to chemical oceanography and useful methods applied within analytical work and modelling to interpret the distribution of substances and identifying processes causing their distribution.

Focus is placed both on the natural and anthropogenic system of the general carbon cycle and other important processes causing changes in biogeochemical cycles and earth systems. Some central topics are the general circulation of the ocean (the thermohaline circulation), biological production, remineralisation and export of organic material. Radioactive and stable isotope distribution used as age tracers of water masses and to identify source waters, calculation of mixing rates and advection of chemical components etc. Air - Sea gas exchange, the biological pump, nutrient cycles (nitrogen, phosphorous and silica cycle) will also be central topics.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student
- has a broad overview on central elements of chemical oceanography
- knows about the chemical substances in the ocean
- knows about processes that govern the distribution of chemical substances in the water column and the sediment
- has knowledge on interactions between the water column, the sediment, and the atmosphere


The student
- is able to calculate the uptake of carbon both in a natural and anthropogenically perturbed air-sea system based upon analytical and model data
- is able to determine how the biological pump influences the distribution of chemical substances in the ocean based on stoichiometry
- can identify processes that are important for air-sea exchange
- can measure and interpret experimental data and summarize results in a short laboratory report
- can interpret results based on modelling in a short report

General competence

The student
- can work on and systemize chemical oceanographic data in order to identify underlying processes that determine the distribution of chemical substances
- can autonomously improve her/his his knowledge on chemical oceanography if she/he wants to extend studies for a master

Semester of Instruction

Enrolment to this course is based on application. Application deadline is Thursday in week 33 for the autumn semester.
Please, see this page for more information:
Required Previous Knowledge
Principles of oceanography, as in GEOF105 Physics of the Atmosphere and Ocean.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Basic knowledge in inorganic chemistry and some organic chemistry is an advantage.
Access to the Course
Access to the course requires admission to a programme of study at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
Teaching and learning methods

Lectures/4 hours per week

Exercises/1 hour per week

Laboratory work measurements: 1 day

Laboratory work modelling: 1 day

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Participation in lectures, exercises, laboratory course and modelling course. Written summaries for the laboratory course and modelling course.
(Valid for four semesters: The semester mandatory activities have been approved and the three following semesters.)
Forms of Assessment
Oral exam
Grading Scale
The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.
Assessment Semester
Examination both spring semester and autumn semester. In semesters without teaching the examination will be arranged at the beginning of the semester.
Reading List
The reading list will be available within June 1st for the autumn semester and January 1st for the spring semester.
Course Evaluation
The coursee will be evaluated by the students in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the department.
Examination Support Material
Programme Committee
Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.