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Types of Oceanographers

Updated on February 4, 2015


Oceanography | Source

On the planet, life abounds everywhere, even in the most hidden places, life can be found. Either, on continental land or in the ocean, ecosystems exist and they´re subjected of study. A chemist, biologist, geologist, etc., will find the object of their study in the most recondite place of the planet.

The Earth´s Ocean comprises approximately two thirds of the world´s surface; therefore, oceanographers (people who study the ocean) have a very broad area of study in it. An oceanographer studies marine life and ecosystems. As with other fields of study, oceanography includes various branches of specialization. Some oceanographers study the chemical composition of the ocean, while others the biological diversity, still others, examine the sea floor and the ocean circulation around the world.

Many scientists studying the Earth’s processes on land often have to transition to the study of oceanography, as the ocean greatly influences many global biological, physical and geological processes that affect both the ocean and land. Oceanography is one of the most multifaceted sciences, as the understanding of one discipline is needed to understand others.

Multidisciplinary Science

Oceanography as a science covers an ample range of topics and subtopics, including marine organisms, large (whales) and small (phytoplancton), the dynamics of the ocean ecosystems, ocean waves, currents, plate tectonics, the structure, formation and spreading of the sea floor, the fluctuation of the chemistry and biology and the physical composition of the ocean and its surroundings. The broad range of topics covered by oceanography make it necessary to combine it with other subjects of knowledge, such as meteorology, hydrology, geology, climatology, physics, paleontology, astronomy, biology and geography, among others.

Study of the Physics of the Ocean

Physical Oceanographers
Physical Oceanographers | Source

Physical Oceanographers

Physical oceanographers study the physical characteristics of the ocean (waves, tides, currents) and the interaction between the earth´s atmosphere and the ocean. That is to say, weather and climate patterns and the erosion of coastal areas.

The study of the physics of the ocean permits scientist to obtain and understanding of global warming and its affects around the world. The knowledge of the ocean´s water circulations lets them acquire knowledge about the effects of some weather patterns, such as El Niño and La Niña. They also study how sound and lights propagates in the ocean and its effects on the ocean´s biodiversity.

Ocean´s Salinity

Salinity | Source


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Chemical Oceanographers

Chemical oceanographers analyze the chemical composition of the ocean, it´s mineral content and pollutants. They also do research studies in the way in which the atmosphere interacts with the ocean. They may do cooperative studies with other scientists, such as biologists to determine the way in which nutrients salinity and other chemicals and pollutants affect the ocean´s biodiversity; moreover, chemical oceanographers, may also investigate techniques to extract mineral compounds from the bottom of the ocean.

Chemical oceanographers spend the majority of their research on a ship; therefore, they will travel on a well-equipped vessel with a lab and computer software on board. They also study the acidification of the ocean due to CO2 absorption by the ocean and its effects on the ecosystems of the ocean.

Ocean Life

Sea Life
Sea Life | Source

Biological Oceanographers

Biological Oceanographers study everything related with life in the ocean (plants, animals) and the way in which this biodiversity interacts with the ocean´s nutrients, chemistry and contaminants present in the ocean. They may keep an account on the quantity of marine species and their development, adaptation, interaction among other species, growth and death for this type of oceanographers, the migration and lifestyles of marine life is a subject of study. They may also do research on how to obtain food resources form the ocean.

Ocean Floor

Sea Floor
Sea Floor | Source

Geological Oceanographers

This type of oceanographers study the structure of the ocean floor, its formation and composition. This area of study includes plate tectonics, the spreading of the ocean´s bottom, and volcanism in the ocean. Their study includes the extraction of cores form the bottom of the ocean. For this purpose, they travel on board an equipped ship, with cranes and other equipment that may allow them to bring the core on board for study. Some special equipment used by this type of oceanographers include submersibles and extracting machines.

They work in conjunction with oil companies to locate oil deposits in the ocean floor.

Facts About Oceanography

Oceanography as a science has been studied for less than 200 years

The systematic study of the Ocean started in the 19th century by the challenger expedition

90% of all volcanic activity occurs in the world´s oceans

An approximate percentage of 90 of the planet´s oceans is still unexplored

The data obtaineed by oceanographers is utilized in marine engineering, so as to design oil platforms, harbours, ships and many other structures, allowing the use of the ocean, safely.


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