Oceanography lECTURE Notes Outline

The History of Oceanography


I. Lecture Content -  Topics Covered

Early Civilizations Get Their Feet Wet

Beginnings of Ocean Science

The Age Of Discovery

Twentieth Century Ocean Exploration

Oceanographic Institutions

Modern-day Oceanography

II. Early Civilizations Get Their Feet Wet

A. Polynesian Island Hoppers

1. Starting around 3000 B.C., these people began to spread across the Southern

Pacific Ocean island groups via small sturdy sailing canoes

        Illustration of the extent of their voyages


2. Undisputed masters of open-ocean voyaging of that era.


        Mastered marine navigation without the aid of sextants or chronometers


        They made and used simple stick charts


3. Main purpose of voyages was for new space and resources (population pressures)


        Thousands of years of voyaging culminated in the discovery and settlement of the Hawaiian Islands


C. Early Mediterranean Civilizations (2500 B.C.? - )

1. Egyptians

        River sailors

        Mainly for commerce


2. Cretans (1500? 1200 B.C.)

         First to move around the Mediterranean Sea in ships

         Purpose was for trading

         Ended abruptly around 1200 B.C.


3. Phoenicians (1300 800 B.C.?)

        Replaced the Cretans to become master sea traders

        Their sea travels took them out into the Atlantic Ocean

        Their civilization was based on sea commerce


D. Early Chinese Empire

1. River Waterway and nearshore seafaring during the time of the early

Mediterranean civilizations

        Main purpose for commerce


F. The Nordic Vikings (500 to 1200? A.D.)

1. Built very fast, sturdy, rowable sailing ships


2. Voyaged all over the Northern Atlantic, Baltic, North, and Mediterranean

Seas and up and down the major European Rivers during the Dark Ages


3. Purpose of voyaging was three-fold:

        Terrorizing and plundering to many cities

        Establish new settlements

        For the pure adventure of it


III. Voyaging Takes on a Scientific Aspect

A. The Egyptians and the Library of Alexandria

1. Founded around the 300 B.C. Huge academic center


2. Storehouse of ship logs and sea charts


3. Created the longitude-latitude coordinate system


B. The Greeks (starting around 900 B.C.)

        Competed with and eventually replaced the Phoenicians as the leading

sea traders of the Mediterranean Sea and Eastern Atlantic Ocean


        First to make extensive recorded ship logs

        Compiled ship logs to create the very first sea charts around 800 B.C.


        These early sea charts included traces of coastlines, landmarks, cities, and ocean currents.


C. The Chinese (800?-1433 A.D.)

1. Chinese seafaring began to really take off during the Dark Ages

        Built huge seaworthy sailing ships with expert crews

        Perfected several navigation techniques

        Developed revolutionary marine technology

        Credited with the compass, central rudder, much better sails, and water-tight compartments.


3. Sailed the high seas and explored the western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and the

Atlantic Ocean.


4. Purpose was two-fold:

        Explore for resources

        Show the rest of the world their supremacy

5. Chinese abandoned their voyaging interests in 1433


IV. The Age of Discovery

A. The Europeans Take to the Sea in a Big Way

1. Renaissance-time influences spurred European leader to explore the world

by sea.


2. Purpose was two-fold:

        Open new trade routes

        Locate new resources


3. Pioneers of European ocean exploration

        Prince Henry the Navigator

        Christopher Columbus

        Ferdinand Magellan


B. Columbuss Voyages to the New World

1. (Almost) Rediscovered North America

2. Mistook the Caribbean region for offshore Asia

3. Underestimated the circumference of the Earth

3. Paved the way for future sea explorers


C. Magellans Around-the-World Voyage (1519-1522)

1. Set out to chart a western trade route to Asia

2. First circum-global ocean voyage

3. Charts were resized to show how big Earth really was.


D. The True Beginnings of Scientific Oceanography

1. The Voyages of Captain Cook and Crew

        The First Voyage (1768-1771)

        The Second Voyage (1772-1775)

        The Third Voyage (1776-1780)

        Purpose of these voyages were multi-fold


2. Tackling the longitude problem

        The problem solved with the invention of an accurate, seaworthy chronometer.

      Invented by John Harrison in 1760

      20,000 invention prize


3. Tackling the sounding and sampling problems

        Introduction of the steam winch

        Improvements in sampling devices

      Mechanical grabs

      Trawl nets


F. First Purely Scientific Oceanographic Voyages

1. The United States Exploring Expedition (1883-1842)

        Aboard the USS Vincesses under Charles Wilkes

        The result of this expedition was a huge scientific report

2. Contributions of Matthew Maury

        Ocean data compiler

        Created impressive accurate charts showing global wind and ocean currents

        Published The Physical Geography of the Seas in 1855.

3. Contributions of Charles Darwin and the HMS Beagle Expedition (1831-1836)

        Very skilled observer and scientist

4. The Challenger Expedition (1872-1876)

        First pure oceanographic voyage

        Mounted by C.W. Thompson and John Murray

      They coined the term "oceanography"

        Worldwide, 127,600 km, four-year voyage

       Longest continuous scientific voyage

        Collection of huge amount of scientific data

      Depth readings




      Atmospheric conditions

      Sea life and bottom sediment samples

      Charted currents and landmasses

        The Challenger Report

      Included a 50 volume set

      Extremely well-written and illustrated

      Exposed the presence of deep sea life

      Discovery of manganese nodules


G. Exploration into the Twentieth Century

1. First polar oceanographic expedition

         Initiated by Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen

      He and crew locked in the drifting Arctic ice pack for several years aboard their ship Fram

      Voyage lasted from 1893 to 1896

      Opened the door to the "golden age" of polar science


2. Several other polar expeditions soon followed

        Peary and others explore the Arctic region

      First to reach the North Pole in 1909


        Amundsen's Antarctic expedition of 1910

      First to reach the South Pole in 1911


        Captain Scott's ill-fated Antarctic Expedition

      Scientific success but several die trying


3. The German Meteor Expedition of 1925

         Introduces the echo sounder instrument to measure ocean depth

and bottom contours

         First to discover the extensive ruggedness of the deep ocean basin

4. American Atlantis Expedition of 1931

               Charted the mid-Atlantic Ridge


5. The voyages of the E.W. Scripps - 1937

               Comprehensive oceanographic study of the ocean off of Southern California


V. Large Oceanographic Institutions come of Age

A. International Hydrographic Bureau (est. 1921)

1. Multinational European consortium

               Jacques Cousteau a founding member


B. Scripps Institute of Oceanography (est. 1912)

1. Based in La Jolla, California

2. Affiliated with the UC San Diego


C. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (est. 1930)

1. Based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

2. Affiliated with MIT


D. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (est. 1949)

1. Based in Palisades, New York

2. Affiliated with Columbia University

3. First director was Maurice Ewing


F. U.S. Government Oceanographic Agencies

1. U.S. Navy Entities

         Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy

         Naval Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Lab

         Naval Ocean Systems Command

2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA)

3. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)


VI. Modern-day Oceanographic Research

A. Drilling into the Deep Ocean Bottom

1. The Glomar Challenger and Operation Moho (1968)

        Drilled in up to 6,000 meters of water

        Drilled down over 1000 meters into ocean bottom

        Tested theory of seafloor spreading


2. The JOIDES Resolution drilling ship(1985)

  Took over the GC's drilling operations

  Drilled in up to 8,000 meters of water

  Largest seagoing geological lab ever


B. Remote Sensing of Our Ocean

1. Allows researchers to accurately monitor vast stretches of ocean surface in

real time.


2. Use of satellites to monitor the physical and chemical dynamics of the ocean

        Sea surface temperature

        Water vapor

        Wind speed and direction

        Wave height and direction

        Ocean currents

        Ocean surface (height) topography

        Ocean bottom topography (indirectly)

        Chlorophyll content of ocean surface


B. Important Ocean Research Satellites

1. Seasat

        Launched in 1978

        First oceanographic satellite


2. TOPEX/Poseidon

        Launched in 1992

        Combined super accurate GPS with radar



        Launched by NASA in 1997

        Carries a broadband color spectral analyzer


C. Submarines used as Oceanographic Platforms

1. Treiste

        Dove to bottom of Challenger Deep (36,000 feet)


2. Alvin

        Discovered mid-ocean ridge black smokers

        Explored the sunken Titanic

3. Navy nuclear subs used for oceanographic research

        1990's Expeditions

      USS Pargo

      USS Pogy

      USS Hawkbill

         Focused on Arctic region

4. Present focus on unmanned submersibles

D. Where is Oceanographic Research Heading?

1. Economies, Opportunities and Money

2. Technological breakthroughs