Ocean Environment

Science & Technology
Earth & Environmental Sciences
Course Code
EAES 1240
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered


Course Description
This course helps students develop an understanding of the ocean environment and interactions with other Earth systems. Students will learn about the physical, chemical, geological and biological factors affecting the Earth's oceans. Current issues such as climate change, sea level rise, and pollution will be examined. A field trip may be required.
Course Content

1. Origin of the oceans:  universe and Earth formation, outgassing.

2. History of ocean science: voyages of discovery and colonization, scientific exploration after 1750, modern era after 1900.

3. Plate tectonics and ocean basins: tectonic plates, earthquakes, Earth's layers, evidence for plate tectonics, plate boundaries, bathymetry and mapping, continental shelf / slope / rise, abyssal plain, trenches, ridges.

4. Ocean sediments and rocks: sediment types / distribution / composition, ocean floor rock types.

5. Water: molecular structure, bonding, heat capacity, density, temperature, salinity, moderation of atmospheric temperature, pycnocline / thermocline / halocline, water masses, refraction of sound and light, light penetration spectrum, solvent properties, seawater composition, dissolved gases, chemical equilibrium.

6. Atmospheric circulation: hydrologic cycle, composition and density, solar heating, Coriolis effect, circulation cells, weather.

7. Ocean circulation: Ekman spiral, gyres and currents, upwelling and downwelling, Langmuir circulation, ENSO / La Nina, thermohaline circulation.

8. Waves: characteristics, depth effect, refraction, oscillation, internal waves, tsunamis.

9. Tides: Newtonian model, effects of gravity and inertia, amphidromic systems, diurnal / semi-diurnal / mixed tides, tidal currents.

10. Coasts and estuaries: sea level change (including Vail curve), erosional and depositional coasts, beaches, deltas, estuary types, reefs.

11. Life in the oceans: physical and chemical factors, productivity, ecology, plankton, algae, plants, animals, carbon and nitrogen cycles, reefs, hydrothermal vents.

12. Resources of the ocean: law of the sea, fisheries, whales, petroleum, minerals.

13. Contemporary issues:  may include waste disposal, sea-level rise, rising temperatures, decreasing biodiversity, eutrophication, coral bleaching, oil spills, national control of resources, and others.

14. Labs may cover the following topics:

  • Use of maps, profiles and graphs to describe and interpret data
  • Bathymetry
  • Sea floor spreading
  • Tides
  • Materials of the sea floor (sediments and rocks)
  • Sea water temperatures
  • Salinity
  • Currents
  • Waves
  • Life in the sea, food webs
  • Productivity
  • Seawater chemistry
  • Minerals and rocks


Learning Activities

Lecture, lab, possible field trip.

Means of Assessment
Participation and In-class assignments  0-10%
Project 0-20%
Labs 10-20%
Lab Exams 15-25%
Lecture Exams 55-60%
     Term Exam(s) 20-40%
     Final Exam 20-30%


Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy.  The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.  Evaluation will be based on the table above.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Appreciate the interaction of ocean, atmosphere, lithosphere and biosphere.

2. Describe the circulation systems of the atmosphere, ocean and mantle.

3. Identify and describe the materials of the ocean, atmosphere and lithosphere.

4. Understand the major physical, chemical and biological processes occurring in the ocean.

5. Illustrate ocean science concepts using maps, graphs and other methods.

6. Discuss contemporary environmental issues using knowledge of ocean sciences.

Textbook Materials

Students should consult the bookstore for the latest required course materials, including textbook.

Textbook:  Garrison, T; Oceanography, An Invitation to Marine Science; Brookes/Cole (Cengage); most recent version; or equivalent text.

Lab package:  labs will be available as a custom package through the book store, or directly from the lab instructor.







Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for EAES 1240
Athabasca University (AU) AU GEOL 2XX (3)
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU GEOG 1XX (3)
Coast Mountain College (CMTN) CMTN OCGY 208 (3)
College of the Rockies (COTR) COTR GEOG 1XX (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU GEOG 1XXX (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG GEOG 2XXX (3)
North Island College (NIC) NIC GEO 1XX (3)
Northern Lights College (NLC) No credit
Okanagan College (OC) OC EESC 1XX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU EASC 1XX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU GENV 1XX (3)
University Canada West (UCW) UCW SCIE 1XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO EESC 1st (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV EOSC 111 (1) & UBCV EOSC 112 (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC ENSC 1XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV GEOG 1XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC EOS 110 (1.5)
Vancouver Community College (VCC) VCC EVSC 1XXX (3)
Vancouver Community College (VCC) No credit

Course Offerings

Winter 2023