Among the many different areas of science that are applied to the study of the oceans are: 1 geology, 2 physics, 3 chemistry, 4 atmospheric science, 5 biology, and 6 engineering




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CHAPTER 1 THE HISTORY OF OCEANOGRAPHY

Key Concepts
Major Concept (I) Scientists who study the oceans have many different scientific backgrounds. Essentially any scientific discipline can be applied to some sub-field of oceanography.
Related or supporting concepts:

- Among the many different areas of science that are applied to the study of the oceans are:

1) geology,

2) physics,

3) chemistry,

4) atmospheric science,

5) biology, and

6) engineering

- Marine geologists study the sediments and rocks found on the sea floor and along coastlines. They also investigate the effects of volcanism associated with the formation of new oceanic crust at spreading centers, the destruction of old oceanic crust along trenches, and in areas such as the Hawaiian Islands.

- Geophysicists can investigate the occurrence of earthquakes in the oceans. They may also measure the gravity and magnetic properties of marine rocks to determine such things as the rate of sea floor spreading, the frequency of the reversal of Earth’s magnetic field, and the distribution of mass in ocean basins.

- Physical oceanography relies heavily on physics and mathematics to study the propagation of waves, the motion of currents, the transmission of energy (such as sound, heat, and light) in water, and the nature of the tides, among other things.

- Chemists can apply their expertise to the analysis of seawater, the measurement of rates and effects of chemical reactions in the water, and the study of the composition of marine sediments and rocks.

- We now appreciate the fact that the oceans interact in complex, and very important, ways with the atmosphere to greatly influence global weather patterns. Conversely, circulation in the atmosphere plays a major role in driving surface currents and can trigger events such as El Niño that impact life in the sea and weather on land. Hence, atmospheric scientists can immerse themselves in oceans too.

- One of the most fundamental characteristics of the oceans is their role as a habitat for a tremendous variety of plants and animals. Consequently, marine biology is a major field of oceanographic study for reasons including pure scientific curiosity, investigation of possible applications to the medical field, and for harvesting food reserves to feed the planet’s ever-increasing population.

- Engineers design equipment used to study the oceans, ships, and structures such as jetties, piers, breakwaters, and groins.

Major Concept (II) Oceanographic study has historically concentrated on different areas, driven by the needs and interests of different nations at different periods of time.

Major Concept (III) Most of the interaction that early civilizations had with the oceans was the result of obtaining food or a desire to discover new lands and improve trade routes rather than to gain any general scientific knowledge.
Related or supporting concepts:

- People are known to have sought food from the seas as early as the Paleolithic period when barbed spears or harpoons were developed.

- At the beginning of the Neolithic period, about 10,000 B.C., bone fishhooks were developed. Some time later during the Neolithic fish nets were first used.

- Copper fishhooks were used by 5000 B.C.

- The first recorded sea voyage was led by Pharaoh Snefru about 3200 B.C.

- The first recorded voyage of exploration was led by Hannu in 2750 B.C. The voyage sailed from Egypt to the southern edge of the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea.

- Extensive migration throughout the southwestern Pacific Ocean may have begun by 2500 B.C. This migration was relatively easy because of the short distance between islands.

- The Phoenician civilization was adept at sailing and navigation as early as 1200 B.C. They are known to have established trade routes throughout the Mediterranean Sea and northward into the Atlantic as far as Great Britain.

- The Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa in about 590 B.C.

- During this same period of time, from 1500–500 B.C., the boundaries of the Indian Ocean were being explored by Arab traders.

- Perhaps the most accomplished open ocean sailors of this time, again between about 1500–500 B.C., were the Polynesians who managed to travel over vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean basin to populate numerous island chains.

- The Polynesians colonized the Hawaiian Islands between A.D. 450 and 600. By the eighth century A.D. they had colonized every habitable island in a triangular region roughly twice the size of the United States from Hawaii on the north to New Zealand in the southwest and Easter Island in the east.

- Without the ability to determine latitude and longitude, and hence actual position on the globe, early explorers observed a variety of natural phenomena to help them in their travel when they were out of site of land. These included wind and wave patterns, their sense of smell, the location and pattern of clouds that would characteristically form over islands, and the sighting of birds that wouldn’t stray too far from land.

- The Greeks called the Mediterranean Sea “Thalassa” and believed that it was surrounded by land, which in turn was surrounded by a great river called “Oceanus.”

- Pytheas (c. 350–300 B.C.), a Greek geographer and explorer, made one of the first voyages from the Mediterranean to England and then north to Scotland, Germany, and Norway. Pytheas also recognized the relationship between the tides and the phases of the moon.

- Aristotle (c. 384–322 B.C.) studied the oceans as a scientist. He believed that they occupied low regions on the earth’s surface, he recognized the cycling of water by evaporation from the sea surface followed eventually by condensation and return as rain, and he studied marine organisms.

- Eratosthenes (c. 264–194 B.C.) first calculated the circumference of the earth as 40,250 km, or 25,000 mi, (compared to current measurements of 40,067 km, or 24,881 mi on average). He also produced a map of the known world.

- Posidonius (c. 135–50 B.C.) reportedly measured an ocean depth of 1800 m, or 6000 ft.

- Pliny the Elder (c. A.D. 23–79) related phases of the moon to the tides and studied currents flowing through the Strait of Gibraltar.

- Ptolemy (c. A.D. 127–151) produced the first world atlas listing more than 8000 places by latitude and longitude. It was based on a major flaw however. He used a value of the circumference of the earth of 29,000 km (18,000 mi). This had the effect of shortening distances and made Columbus believe he had reached the eastern edge of Asia when he landed in the Americas.

Major Concept (IV) During the Middle Ages, relatively little new knowledge was added to our understanding of the oceans. Despite this, however, advances continued to be made in shipbuilding, navigation, and piloting.
Related or supporting concepts:

- Following the academic achievements of the Greeks and Romans, the Middle Ages were a period of roughly 1000 years of intellectual inactivity in the West.

- Practical problems related to the sea continued to be addressed during this time and there were significant improvements in:

a. ship design and building,

b. navigation, and

c. cartography (the design and making of maps).

- The Vikings are credited with extensive voyages throughout the North Atlantic during the time from 793–1066. These voyages were aided by a period of global warming that reduced the hazards of drifting ice in the North Atlantic.

- Additional important accomplishments of the Vikings include:

a. the colonization of Iceland in 871. As many as 12,000 immigrants eventually settled there.

b. Erik the Red (Erik Thorvaldsson) sailed west from Iceland in 982 and discovered Greenland.

c. Leif Eriksson (son of Erik the Red) sailed to North America in 1002, roughly 500 years before Columbus.

- At about this same time, Arab civilization was building on the knowledge of the Greeks and Romans to pioneer and improve trade routes throughout the Indian Ocean.

- The Arab El-Mas´údé (d. 956) first described the relationship between surface currents and monsoon winds in the Indian Ocean. Using this knowledge the Arabs pioneered regular trade routes across the Indian Ocean.

- Chinese junks sailed the same trade routes as the Arabs using crews of 200 to 300 during the 1200s.

- Charts during this time still lacked accurate lines of latitude and longitude. Consequently, they were not useful for navigation across large expanses of seawater and absolute location.

- Most charts were of near coastal waters, locating ports and noting distances between them. These charts were called “portolanos.” These charts included a mileage scale and notes on hazards to navigation but they did not have latitude and longitude.

- In the 13th century:

a. magnetic compass directions were added to maps (figure 1.6), and

b. Greek knowledge in the hands of the Arabs was translated into Latin and re-discovered by northern Europeans.

- The Venerable Bede (673–735) made observations of the tides along the British coast.

- By the 1300s Europeans had established successful trade routes, including some partial ocean crossings.

- By the end of the 1300s the desire for riches from new lands led wealthy individuals in Europe to finance long voyages of discovery to all the oceans of the world. A leader in this exploration was Prince Henry of Portugal (1394–1460), also known as Prince Henry the Navigator because he established a naval observatory for the teaching of navigation, astronomy, and cartography in about 1450.

Major Concept (V) The 15th and 16th centuries were times of great global voyages of discovery. These were conducted primarily by northern Europeans.
Related or supporting concepts:

- The first voyages of discovery in the early 15th century were conducted by the Chinese. In seven voyages over 300 ships explored the Indian and Pacific oceans. The last of these voyages was in 1433, after which the Chinese concluded that other civilizations were not advanced enough to offer them anything and they voluntarily entered a period of isolation that would last 400 years.

- These voyages were the result of a desire to increase trade with known lands and discover new regions that might also prove to be financially rewarding.

- Bartholomeu Dias:

a. lived from about 1450–1500,

b. circumnavigated Africa sailing around the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean in 1487 in the first of the great voyages of discovery, and

c. was driven by his desire to find faster trade routes to the Far East.

- Christopher Columbus:

a. lived from 1451–1506,

b. made four voyages across the Atlantic intent on reaching the Far East, and

c. is credited with being the first European to see the New World.

- Vasco da Gama:

a. lived from about 1469–1524, and

b. followed in the path of Dias, journeying to India.

- Amerigo Vespucci:

a. lived from 1454–1512,

b. was an Italian explorer,

c. sailed several times to the New World between 1499–1504 on behalf of Spain and Portugal, and

d. believed South America was a distinct continent not attached to Asia.

- Martin Waldseemüller was a German cartographer who christened what we now call South America “America” in honor of Vespucci in 1507.

- Vasco Nuñez de Balboa:

a. lived from 1475–1519, and

b. is credited with first sighting the Pacific Ocean in 1513.

- Juan Ponce de León:

a. lived from about 1460–1521, and

b. discovered Florida and the Florida Current in 1513.

- Ferdinand Magellan:

a. lived from about 1480–1521,

b. left Spain in 1519 with five ships to cross the Atlantic and rounded the tip of South America in 1520 in search of a westward passage to the Spice Islands,

c. crossed the Pacific with three ships in 1520–21 and was killed in the Philippines in 1521.

d. one of his three ships, Victoria, continued around Africa and across the Indian Ocean to return home in 1522 completing the first circumnavigation of the globe, and

e. is also credited with determining the length of a degree of latitude and calculating the circumference of the earth.

- In the last half of the 16th century explorers sought new knowledge of, and trade routes across, northern routes.

- Sir Martin Frobisher:

a. lived from about 1535–94, and

b. led three voyages in search of a northwest passage across North America in the 1570s.

- Henry Hudson (d. 1611) followed Frobisher and sailed on four trips from 1607–1610.

- William Baffin

a. lived from 1584–1622, and

b. sought a northwest passage during two trips in 1615 and 1616.

- Sir Francis Drake:

a. lived from about 1540–96,

b. sailed on the Golden Hind to circumnavigate the globe in a voyage that lasted from 1577–80, and

c. returned with Spanish gold for Queen Elizabeth I.

Major Concept (VI) Scientists in the 17th century were beginning to show an interest in the basics of Earth science.
Related or supporting concepts:

- In the 15th and 16th centuries the scientific view of the oceans was still dominated by the work of Aristotle and Pliny.

- In the 17th century curiosity about the earth began to flourish. Scientists wrote papers and formed societies to discuss their findings.

- Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) studied planetary motion.

- Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) studied mass, weight, and acceleration.

- Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) wrote his Principia in 1687 in which he presented his law of gravity and the forces creating the tides were explained.

- Edmund Halley (1656–1742):

a. made a voyage in 1698 to study longitude and the variation of the compass, and

b. suggested that the age of the oceans could be calculated by measuring the rate at which rivers carry salt to the sea.

- Physicist John Joly followed Halley's suggestion and in 1899 reported an age of the oceans of 90–100 million years based on a calculation of the annual rate of addition of salt to the oceans. This proved to be far too young because he did not account for the recycling of salt, the incorporation of salt in marine sediments, or marine salt deposits.

Major Concept (VII) The successful exploitation of the oceans for transportation and economical trade required the development of accurate navigational methods and detailed charts of land masses, prevailing winds, and surface currents.
Related or supporting concepts:

- Following the great voyages of discovery, there were new trade routes to be used routinely and distant colonies established. This required the construction of accurate charts and the improvement of navigational techniques.

- The science of the mapping of oceans and other large bodies of water for the purpose of improving navigation is called “hydrography.”
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