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History and Significance of Oceanography

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  • Dr. Sajjad Hussain Sajjad


“Oceanography is a branch of earth science which deals with the study of world oceans”

Oceanography is a boarder term in which many sciences focused on the common goal of understanding then oceans. Geology, Physics, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Botany, Zoology, Mathematics, and Meteorology all play important role in the expanding over knowledge of the oceans. Geological Oceanography is the study of earth at the sea “edge below its surface and the history which poses ocean basin. Physical Oceanography deals the causes and properties of water movement such as wave’s currents and tides. Physical Oceanography also poses the study of the transmission of energy such as sound light and heat in sea water and the study of heat transfer and water cycle is called Marine Meteorology. Chemical oceanography deals with composition and history of the water. Biological Oceanography is the study of all marine organism and the interaction between there organism and the environment. The study of the oceans was promoted by intellectual and the social forces as well as by our need for marine resources and trade etc. Oceanography started conversional, it began to develop as a modern science in the mid 1800 s. Our progress towards the goal of understanding the ocean has been uneven and it has frequently changed direction. The interest and need of nations as well as the intellectual curiosity of scientists have controlled the rate at which we study the ocean.


  • Historical overview of Oceanography
  • Scope and Significance of Oceanography

Main body of assignment

Historical overview of Oceanography

The Early Times

Peoples have been gathering information about the ocean for millennia accumulating bits and pieces of knowledge and passing it on by word of mouth. Curious individuals must have acquired their first idea of the oceans from wondering the seashore. Wading in the shallows and gathering food from the ocean edge. During Palaeolithic period the humans developed the barbed, spear, or harpoon and the gorge. At the beginning of the Neolithic period the bone fishhook was developed and later the net. As early human moved slowly away from their in land. Centre’s of development, they were prepare to take the benefits of seafood sources when they first explored and later settled along the ocean shore. The remaining of shell and refuse in piles known as kitchen maddens have been found at these sites of ancient shore settlement. The artefacts that have been found probably give us only an idea of the minimum extent of ancient short ancient. Mediterranean the ancient Greeks caught maintain and traded fish while the Phoenicians founded fishing settlement such as the fisher town Sidon that grew into important trading ports. Some historian believes that seagoing ships of all kinds are derived from early Egyptian vessels. The first recorded travel by sea was led by pharaoh snafu about 3200 B.C. The Phoenicians who lived in present day Lebanon from about 1200 to 146 B.C. were well known as excellent sailors and navigator. The Phoenicians were the only nation in the region at that time that had a navy. They traded through the Mediterranean Sea with inhabitants of North Africa, Italy, Greece, France and Spain. In 1999 the wreckage of two Phoenician cargo vessels circa 750 B.C. was explored using remotely operated vehicles (ROVS) that could dive to the wreckage and send back live video images of ships. Ptolemy (C.A.D.127-51) developed the world first atlas and drawing the world boundaries to the north the British Isles Northern Europe and the strange land of Asia to the South and known land terra Australia incognita including Ethiopia, Libya, and the India Sea to the East China and to the West, there is the great Western Ocean reaching around earth to china.

Middle Ages

Scientific thought and intellectual activity declined after Ptolemy for about 1000 years in Europe. During the Middle Ages improved ship buildings to the south in the Mediterranean region after fall to the Roman Empire. Arab scholars continue Greek and Roman knowledge to build on it. During the Middle Ages, while Scholarship about the sea continue primitive. The knowledge of navigation increased Harbours finding charts appeared. Dutch navigational chart from Johannes van Kerulen great new and improved sea atlas or water world of 1682-84. The compass direction follow the pattern used in early fourteen century protolanos

Voyages of Discovery

Early in the fifteenth century, the Chinese organized seven voyage the explore the pacific and Indian ocean has more than 300 ships, in which more than one ship are 122m(400 ft.) long participation in these adventures to extend Chinese influence and demonstrate the power of the Ming dynasty. This voyages ended in 1433. The individual most responsible for the great age of European discovery was Prince Henry the navigator (1394- 1460) of Portugal. Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) made firer voyages across the Atlantic Ocean in an effort to find a new route to the East Indies by traveling west rather than east. Italian navigator Amigo Vespucci (1454-1512) made several voyage to the world (1499-1504) from Spain and Portugal, exploring nearly 10,000 km of South American coastline. After that the captain James Cook (1728-1779) made his three great voyages. He was British navigator and he was famous for his voyages. In 1768 he left the England then he returned in 1871 and he explored and charted coast of New Zealand and Eastern Australia. In this third journey between (1772-1775) he explored the Antarctic Ocean. In the United States, Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) travels between England and America. His cousin and a whaling captain from Nantucket constructed the chart of gulf stream current when published the chart, encouraged captains to sail with in the gulf stream en routes to Europe and return via the trade wind beat and follow the gulf stream north again to Philadelphia, New York city and many other parts.

Prof. Nils Jerlov (1910-1990)

Professor Nils Jerlov is belonging from Sweden and passed away at the age of 80. He got the degree of graduation in 1932 and took his doctor degree in 1939 at the University of Lund. After that he was appointed a professor in Physical Oceanography at the University of Copenhagen in 1963. Nile Jerlov took part in a number of expedition’s a. o. Prof Niles Jerlov participated in the Swedish worldwide Oceanography expeditions with the R/V Albatross (1947-1948). He had number of specialities but a great interested was optical Oceanography. The study of optical Oceanography includes light penetrating sea water. Niles Jerlov was member of many international associations for Physical Oceanography and the Danish national board for Oceanology as well as many others. Then the Nils Jerlov met with B.Kullenberg and make outstanding investigation of the optical properties of sea water and his major investigation is the optical classification of sea water which is called Jerlov Classification. Jerlov was interested in many fields. He wrote publication on the heat budget of sea water, nuclear Physics and the population problems. He concluded his own and his other research colleagues work in the book and published under the name marine optics Jerlov and his staff developed a world famous institution of optical oceanography in Copenhagen. Jerlov had no understanding of disputes between colleagues about the publication of scientific result.

History of Oceanography in Germany

The deutsche Gesell chaff fur Meeresforschung has developed a working group on the history of marine investigation. It is all those interested in German Marine Science including the Mathematics and Technology political history of Geography and Marine history.

Oceanography at Royal Museum of Scotland

A new scientific instrument gallery planned by Alison Morrison Low has opened at the RMS in Edinburgh. It contains the distinguished history of Oceanography in Scotland.

The Extended U.S Territorial Sea

At the Meeting at the law school in January 1991 Professor Harry Schieber at the University of Hawaii. His Co- author Chris Carr of the University of California at Barkley presenting a paper on problem of United State Fisheries Oceanography in relation to extended Jurisdiction Policies (1945-1989).

Ocean Resources: Industries and Rivalries

A volume with this title edited by Harry N. Schieber contains many historical papers based on paper repared for the 10th international economic history congress. Belgium Leuven after that the Dr. Herman Ueberlein on Breganzona Lugano Switzerland has contributed the private collection of 6500 books and many documents based on the history of marine and fresh water research. A congress organised to commemorate 500 years of Portuguese’s maritime Escola Nacional De Saude public a, Lisbon 10-13 September 1990 and 50 participants from the U.K, Spain, Portugal, and Japan prepared paper based on the medical subjects related to Portuguese maritime discoveries and their era. It will be published the AV- Padre Cruz 1699 Lisboa Codec and the national de Saude Publica.

Scope and Significance of Oceanography

The ocean important to every individual on the earth planet. People enjoy the beauty of the oceans and bounty of its waters, but may not fully understand that every day actions- boating improper waste disposal construction ignoring developing areas can affect the oceans and its resources. Planning for long term growth development and use of coastal areas is the key to continued life of the oceans. Project Oceanography has dedicated a portion of its 1998 fall schedule to year of the oceans (YOTO). The declaration of 1998 as the international year of the oceans provides a chance for organization governments and individual to raise public awareness of the role that the ocean play in our lives, and to initiate changes needed to sustain the marine resources on which we all depends.

The most important points of (YOTO) are hoping to get across to everyone. These points include:

  • The significance of ocean to health on the earth planet.
  • Different kinds of instruments that we use to study the oceans.
  • The significance of marine environment and the living organism in them are threatened.

Participating in YOTO is easy for everyone, and it might be an on-going participation there is a numerous of free materials at resources available throw government agencies’ much of it via the internet, which you can use in your class room for many years. Now it is a good time to order and download lot of free, high-quality marine educational material. Both President Clinton and wise president Al Gore or main supporters of ocean protection. They are advocating what may prove to be a new era in ocean exploration among many of the new programme announced in June 1998, the United State will review ocean resources and policy to insure a “Cleaner” Marine Environment, Healthier. Ocean cover greater than 70% of the earth surface and it contain 99% of the living space on the earth. Without the oceans the organisms do not survive, it would be five fewer phyla of animals on the earth surface. However it is the most important to preserve the oceans and to protect the biodiversity which living on the earth surface.


Mangrove, Salt Marshes, Sea grass, Beds and Coral Reefs or just a few of the ocean environment which support a large number of different species of organism- that is, have a high biodiversity. Estuaries are brackish water system that empty there water into the world oceans, and support many, many fishes and many other living organisms. Along with the coral reefs, estuaries sustain 75% of all commercial fishes and shellfish during some point of their life cycles. Mangroves not only act as nurseries for commercially important marine species, they also act as a filtration system for coastal water.

Natural Resources

The floor of ocean habitat is not as well-known as coral reefs or coastal areas, but it is very important to all other organisms that live on the bottom of the oceans. The continental shells and ocean floor is store house of many important minerals including natural gas oil.


The oceans are not only important to sustain life, but also help in the moving of materials that we use more than 95% of U.S. foreign trade passes through U.S ports and Harbours. Without barges, commercial ships transportation of goods from place to place would be much more difficult and expensive. Cities which have good natural harbours have always had an advantage, and even today are some of the largest cities in the world.

Climate and Weather

Warm ocean water provides the energy to fuel storm system that provides fresh water which is necessary to land-dwelling organisms. The oceans effect climate and global weather as the air passes over the warm water, rises due to warming. When it is cold condensation of water take place and create rainfall. If the air passes or a cooler water, it becomes cools and sinks. Air removes from high to low pressure areas. Warm air moves with the Gulf Stream toward the northern Europe. Thus, the winters and northern Europe or not intolerable.


The ocean is also important to our economy. One of every six U.S. jobs is marine-related, and more than 66% of the world populations lives within 100 km of the coastline. Real state, occupation, recreation and many other services associated with the ocean generate 54 billion dollars in goods and services per year. Revenue related to the ocean is produced throw, kelp, food, recreation, and moaning, shipping and biomedical products.

Source of trade Routes

The trade between different countries confined to the oceans and it determined different routes which joining different countries

Source of food Supply

Oceans are most important source of food supply including red algae, sponges, fish’s etc. sponges and cartilage from the sharks or being used in medicine to help fight the battle against cancer.

Source of Salt

Oceans are major source of salt which is use for different purposes. And which is necessary to many marine organisms.

Source of Water vapour

Another most important function of oceans is the formation of water vapours.

  • Political importance of oceans.
  • Source of ecosystem
  • Strategic importance
  • Source of atmospheric circulation



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