Module OSX-2004:
Estuary & Shelf Sea Processes

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Thomas Rippeth

Overall aims and purpose

For most people, their nearest stretch of salt water is either in an estuary or a shelf sea. These relatively shallow water bodies provide us with transport links, recreation, food and mineral resources. Accordingly, they are also areas of significant human influence. They play host to a unique set of processes which determine the nature of the water column structure and hence exchange between the terrestrial environment and the ocean. This module introduces the physical, chemical and sedimentary processes occurring in shelf seas and estuaries which unlie models for the management of these important systems.

Course content

This course introduces the fundamental processes occurring in shelf seas and estuaries and examines the relationship between physics, chemistry and sediments. Topics covered include: air-sea interaction (heat, gases etc) water column structure: seasonal stratification and mixing inputs of fresh water at the coast and estuarine circulation movement of sediments in shelf seas and estuaries the behaviour of nutrients and other chemicals in the estuarine environment how these processes interact to affect water quality and influence the management of estuaries by man palaeo-oceanography of shelf seas The course is taught through lectures, laboratory and computer practicals and a field course.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

Partial understanding of basic principles of shelf sea and estuarine physics Basic appreciation of the principles of estuarine and shelf sea sedimentation processes Basic knowledge of the source, cycling and fate of nutrients and other chemicals in estuaries Basic understanding of the palaeo-oceanography of shelf seas

good

Clear understanding of basic principles of shelf sea and estuarine physics Clear appreciation of the principles of estuarine and shelf sea sedimentation processes Comprehensive knowledge of the source, cycling and fate of nutrients and other chemicals in estuaries Good understanding of the palaeo-oceanography of shelf seas

excellent

Thorough understanding of basic principles of shelf sea and estuarine physics Highly developed appreciation of the principles of estuarine and shelf sea sedimentation processes Thorough knowledge of the source, cycling and fate of nutrients and other chemicals in estuaries Highly developed understanding of the palaeo-oceanography of shelf seas

Learning outcomes

  1. Appreciate how physical, chemical, geological and biological processes interact to affect water quality and influence the management of estuaries by man

  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the way that stratification forms and is destroyed in shelf seas and estuaries, and a knowledge of fronts that lie between stratified and mixed water

  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the principal chemical processes in shelf seas and estuaries, and how these are related to physical forcing.

  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the suspended and seabed sediments in shelf seas and estuaries and the processes which control sediment suspension and transport

  5. Appreciate sources, sinks and cycles of nutrients and other chemicals in estuaries.

  6. Master some simple laboratory techniques to assess chemical distributions in estuaries.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Heating & Stirring Numerical Modelling Exercise

Online test to follow-up from class based introduction to numerical modelling of the positions of shelf sea fronts.

15
COURSEWORK Online test: Estuarine Chemistry

Online test to follow up on lab based marine bio geochemistry exercises.

15
COURSEWORK Sediment transport

Online test assessing a lab based instrumentation workshop and computer based data analysis exercise.

15
EXAM Exam

Exam to test full range of learning outcomes.

40
COURSEWORK Estuaries and Estuarine Flushing

Online test to assess a computer based practical examining key characteristics of estuarine circulation.

15

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Private study 171
Lecture

Two 1 hour lectures per week

17
Practical classes and workshops

Four 3 hour practicals covering the physics, chemistry and sedimentology of estuaries and shelf seas. These include student led numerical modelling studies, numerical problem solving, lab based chemical experiments and geoscience work.

12

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: