Home   »   Geography   »   Oceanography

Oceanography, Study of Oceans Objective and Significance

Oceanography encompasses the exploration of the ocean’s physical, chemical, and biological characteristics, spanning from its ancient origins to its present state and future trajectories. Know all about Oceanography, Study of Oceans Objective and Significance in this article.

Oceanography Meaning

Oceanography is the scientific study of the ocean and its various aspects. It encompasses a wide range of topics, including:

  1. Physical Oceanography: Examines the physical conditions and processes within the ocean, such as currents, waves, tides, and the interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere.
  2. Chemical Oceanography: Focuses on the chemical composition of seawater, including the cycles of chemical substances and their interactions with marine organisms and the seafloor.
  3. Biological Oceanography: Studies the organisms that inhabit the ocean and their ecological interactions, including marine biology and the distribution of marine species.
  4. Geological Oceanography: Investigates the structure and composition of the ocean floor, including plate tectonics, oceanic circulation, and the formation of underwater features like trenches, ridges, and volcanoes.
  5. Marine Engineering: Involves the development and use of technology and equipment to explore and utilize the ocean, such as submersibles, sensors, and oceanographic vessels.

Oceanography integrates knowledge from various scientific disciplines, including biology, chemistry, physics, geology, and engineering, to understand and manage ocean resources, predict environmental changes, and address issues like climate change, pollution, and marine conservation.

Oceanography Study Objectives

The study objectives of oceanography encompass a broad range of goals aimed at understanding and managing the ocean’s complex systems. Key objectives include:

  • Understanding Ocean Dynamics:
    • Investigate ocean currents, waves, and tides and their effects on global climate and weather patterns.
    • Study the interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere, including phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña.
  • Marine Ecosystems and Biodiversity:
    • Explore the distribution, behavior, and interactions of marine organisms.
    • Assess the health and biodiversity of marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, deep-sea habitats, and coastal environments.
  • Chemical Composition and Processes:
    • Analyze the chemical properties of seawater, including salinity, pH, and nutrient content.
    • Understand biogeochemical cycles, such as the carbon cycle, and their impact on ocean health and climate.
  • Geological Structures and Processes:
    • Map and study the seafloor’s geological features, such as mid-ocean ridges, trenches, and underwater volcanoes.
    • Investigate sedimentation processes and the history of ocean basins.
  • Human Impact and Environmental Management:
    • Examine the effects of human activities on the ocean, including pollution, overfishing, and habitat destruction.
    • Develop strategies for sustainable ocean resource management and marine conservation.
  • Climate Change and Oceanic Responses:
    • Study the ocean’s role in regulating the Earth’s climate and the impacts of climate change on oceanic systems.
    • Monitor changes in sea level, ocean temperature, and ice cover.

Oceanic Relief Features

Water covers approximately one-third of the earth’s surface. Oceans, Inland Seas, Small Enclosed Seas, Bays, and other hydrosphere features are classified according to their size and location as Oceans, Inland Seas, Small Enclosed Seas, Bays, and other hydrosphere features. The world’s four primary oceans are the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Arctic Ocean. The Ocean Relief Features are different from the continental features because the oceanic crust is relatively newer compared to the continental features.

The oceanic crust is less than 70 million years old, whereas continental features are over 1 Billion years old. For academic simplicity, oceanic relief can be divided into four major divisions.

  • The Continental Shelf
  • The Continental Slope
  • The Continental Rise
  • The Abyssal plain

Besides these, there are many other associated Minor Relief features like ridges, hills, seamounts, guyots, trenches, canyons, etc.

Oceanic Relief Features result from the tectonic, erosional, depositional, and volcanic activities on the ocean surfaces. Ocean reliefs have a marked effect on the motion of the seawater, and they also impact human activities like fishing and navigation.

Read about: Continental Drift Theory

Ocean Floor Diagram

In the figure given below, you can see the different relief features. The abyssal plain is the ocean floor. There are a few small deeper areas called ocean trenches beneath the ocean floor. Seamounts, volcanic islands, and mid-oceanic ridges and rises are examples of features rising from the ocean floor.

Oceanography, Study of Oceans Objective & Significance_4.1

Ocean Water Temperature and Density

Massive meteorology is concerned with the study of ocean temperatures because it deals with the portion of the atmosphere that spreads over vast water masses. One of the most important responsibilities of oceanographers has been to determine and accurately measure the temperature of the sea, as this aids in determining the motions of vast amounts of ocean water.

A substance’s density is defined as its mass per unit volume, expressed in grammes per cubic centimetre. Density is commonly used to refer to specific gravity, which is defined as the density to distilled water ratio at a given temperature and pressure. Pure water has a maximum density of one unit at 4 degrees Celsius; however, the density of the sea varies depending on the salinity content.

The density of pure water is determined solely by temperature and pressure. Temperature, pressure, and salinity all have an effect on seawater. This diagram depicts the effect of salt on density and freezing point. Pure water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius and has the highest density at 4 degrees Celsius, as shown in the image. The freezing point of ocean water decreases as salinity increases, as does the temperature of maximum density.

Ocean Salinity

Salinity is defined as the total amount of solid material in a kilogramme of seawater expressed in parts per thousand. The salinity of saltwater is 3.5 per cent on average, measured in parts per thousand. Salinity fluctuates due to winds caused by changes in air pressure.

Ocean Water Movement

The ocean’s water is never still. Ocean water flows take various forms as a result of physical properties such as temperature, salinity, density, and so on. The movement of ocean water is influenced by external factors such as the sun, moon, and winds. The major movements of ocean waters are classified into three types. These are,

Ocean currents and waves are horizontal motions of ocean water, whereas tides are vertical flows of ocean water. The significance of oceanography includes:

  • Climate Regulation: Regulates climate by absorbing CO₂ and heat.
  • Biodiversity: Maintains marine species and ecosystem health.
  • Resource Management: Ensures sustainable use of fish, minerals, and energy resources.
  • Environmental Protection: Monitors pollution and develops conservation strategies.
  • Scientific Discovery: Advances knowledge of marine life, geology, and chemical processes.
  • Natural Hazard Mitigation: Predicts and mitigates tsunamis, hurricanes, and sea-level rise.
  • Global Economy: Enhances maritime safety and trade efficiency.
  • Public Health and Recreation: Ensures safe waters and provides recreational benefits.

Oceanography Significance

Ocean Water regulates the Earth’s climate. The oceans play an important role in the hydrological cycle and are home to much of the world’s biodiversity. They provide food as well as minerals. They are a vital means of national defence as well as a low-cost mode of transportation.

Oceanography UPSC

Above all, oceanographers can help predict future changes in global temperature and issue warnings about sea-level rise, which could harm low-lying countries and coral reefs. In this article, we discussed Oceanography and its relevance to the UPSC exam. We study the relief, temperature, density, salinity, and movement of ocean water through oceanography. Finally, we discussed the Significance of oceanography.

Other Indian Geography Topics

Seasons of India Mountains of India
Mangrove Forests in India Important Mountain Passes in India
Monsoon in India
Indus River System
Climate of India
Rivers of India
Tributaries of Ganga
National Parks in India
Important Dams in India
Wildlife Sanctuaries of India
Tiger Reserves in India
Northern Plains of India
Physiography of India
Important Lakes of India
Wetlands in India
Biodiversity in India
Natural Vegetation in India Earthquakes in India
Types of Soil in India
Ramsar Sites in India
Brahmaputra River System
Hydropower Plants in India
Nuclear Power Plants in India
Major Ports in India
Biosphere Reserves in India
Waterfalls in India

Other Fundamental Geography Topics

Solar System Types of Clouds
Structure of the Atmosphere Himalayan Ranges
Component of Environment
El Nino and La Nina
Coral Reef
Continental Drift Theory
Endogenic and Exogenic Forces
Indian Ocean Region
Pacific Ocean
Indian Ocean Dipole
Air Pollution
Environmental Impact Assessment
Tropical Cyclone
Western Disturbances
Types of Rocks

Sharing is caring!

Oceanography FAQs

What is the relationship between the density and temperature of ocean water?

The density of ocean water increases as the temperature drops. As a result, the colder the water is, the denser the water is. As salinity rises, so does the density of seawater.

What is oceanography?

Oceanography is the study of the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the ocean, as well as its ancient history, current state, and future.

Is oceanography difficult?

No, you only need to grasp a few concepts; once you've mastered them, learning oceanography will be a breeze.

Why do we study oceanography?

Because the ocean stores so much heat, oceanographers can help predict future changes in the temperature of the planet, as well as provide warning of sea level changes, which could devastate low-lying countries and coral reefs.

What is meant by oceanology?

Specifically, the science and technology of marine resources.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *