Physical Oceanography in Fjords

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


The course aims to provide the students with practical and theoretical knowledge and understanding of the circulation, exchange processes and response to external forcing in fjords. The fieldwork from a dedicated cruise aims to provide training on the use of relevant oceanographic instrumentation, on data analysis and reporting, and help to put the theory in context.


The course describes the basic features of circulation, water masses and mixing processes in fjords. An introduction to how external forcings affect the different layers in the fjord will be supplemented by fieldwork in a fjord and key scientific literature on selected aspects of fjord physics. Estuarine circulation, water exchange with adjacent coastal waters, renewal of deep water masses, tidal interaction with fjord constrictions, vertical diffusion driven by internal waves, physical-biological interactions, dynamics of Arctic fjords, and the hydrography of selected important fjords will be discussed.

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 thorough knowledge of the main features of the fjord stratification and circulation
  • has good understanding of the response to external forcing and the processes contributing to vertical mixing in fjord basins
  • has knowledge of the observational methods related to describe the physical oceanography in fjords


The student

  • can use simple physical concepts to explain the circulation and mixing in a fjord
  • can analyze and present data from observations to describe the physical oceanography in a fjord


General competence

The student

  • can relate wind and tidal forcing to vertical mixing and circulation in ocean
  • can generalize and relate the knowledge and skill gained to applications such as harvesting energy from tides and currents, environmental effects of fish farms, and dispersal and mixing of pollutants
  • can prepare a scientific report and presentation

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Spring, the course will only be taught if enough students enrol.Enrolment to this course is based on application. Application deadline is wednesday in week 2 for the spring semester.Please, see this page for more information:

Mandatory attendance at first lecture.

Please notice that it is not possible to follow both courses GEOF232 and GEOF337 in parallel.

Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Bachelor's degree in Climate, Atmosphere and Ocean Physics (named Bachelor's degree in Meteorology and Oceanography until Fall 2017), or equivalent.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
GEOF310 Turbulence in the Atmospheric and Ocean Boundary Layer, GEOF232 Practical Meteorology and Oceanography, and GEOF346 Tidal dynamics and sea level variations or GEOF331 Tidal dynamics or equivalent
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
GEOF332: 5 ECTS.
Access to the Course
Access to the course requires admission to a master's programme or to a PhD-education at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Teaching and learning methods
2 lectures; 2+1 hours per weekGroup work 1 hour per week Field work, 5-8 days Literature assignment: each student presents one paper Field work assignment: each student presents results from the cruise, and contributes to the cruise report
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Compulsory assignments and attendance:

Active participation in seminars and fieldwork. Seminar presentation of at least one assigned scientific paper (valid for four semesters: the semester mandatory activities have been approved and the three following semesters.)

Forms of Assessment

Forms of assessment are:

  • Oral examination, (counts for 60 % of the final grade)
  • Semester report and presentation (40%).


The students has to pass the oral exam. The report and the presentation are valid the semester it was submitted and the following semester. The results from the two parts (oral examination and semester report/presentation) are added together to determine the final grade.

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 July 1st for the autumn semester and January 1st for the spring semester.
Course Evaluation
The course will be evaluated by the students in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the department.
Examination Support Material
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.
Geophysical Institute