Computation for Oceanography and Coastal Science

Ali Reza Payandeh, Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, LSU

The development and implementation of coastal and ocean numerical models has led to specialized applications in oceanography and coastal sciences. However, it is important for students to first gain in-depth knowledge of the computation theory behind these models. Students need to take courses in which they will explore theoretical concepts in order to better understand physical oceanography concepts like tides, surges and relative sea levels. Students should be able to use the calculus to derive the governing equations of fluid dynamics in a rotating frame.

Matlab has great tools which is perfect to make small models that use linear algebra and partial differential equations to solve basic initial-boundary problems that have become the basics of physical oceanography. I ask students to use MATLAB in different assignments where students learn basic programming and data analysis skills. In the next level, I emphasis on writing optimized routines to analyze data sets utilizing matrix algebra and vectorization of functions. In my experience as a researcher in oceanography, I have come to realize that those students who have a background in programming are more successful than others who are not technically inclined.

I see a number of challenges for the teaching of computation in oceanography and coastal sciences:
- Traditionally there is not enough computational courses in oceanography majors.
- Courses are typically taught at a graduate level, where concepts are explained through descriptive language, and not through the use of mathematics.
- Most of oceanography courses do not cover programming and programming is beyond the scope of most of these courses.
- Most of students have problem with Basic graphics and visualizations including two-dimensional and three-dimensional graphing, contouring and movies.
It is my goal to teach programming and basic MATLAB skills in different courses I teach, to make students ready for future challenges of research in Oceanography and coastal sciences.

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