Oceanography (from the Greek: Oκεανός, “Okeanos” and γράφειν, “to write”) is the science of the Earth’s oceans and seas. Oceanography is a very broad area of research where the oceans are studied from physical, chemical, biological, and geological perspective, and among other things includes plate tectonics, ocean currents, and meteorology.
In some countries, there is some linguistic confusion regarding the name oceanography where an oceanographer of today only deals with the ocean currents, temperatures, waves, etc., the equivalent of meteorology on land. A marine geologist is working with the sediment and so on. When talking about the history of the “proper” oceanography, it also includes all disciplines of the ocean oceanography. In other words, in the U.S. there be an oceanographer with marine geological focus, while in Sweden would only be marine geologist. This is sometimes called the oceanography of their wider significance and oceanography in its narrower sense.
The first attempts to explore the oceans were limited to the surface of the sea and the animals that fishermen caught. However, when explorers like Bougainville and Cook began to explore the South Pacific Ocean, first records were included in their reports, like those written by James Rennell, which dealt with ocean currents in the Indian and Atlantic Ocean in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Sir James Clark Ross was the first who began to plumb the depth of the sea in 1840. As well as Charles Darwin who studied reefs and atoll formation. Matthew Fontaine Maury’s Physical Geography of the Sea was the first work on oceanography in 1855.
As a science, oceanography was born 1872-76 with the Scots Charles Wyville Thomson and John Murray’s Challenger Expedition, a company that soon got European and American followers. Soon, oceanographic institutions were founded in quantity around the globe followed by the founding of the International Organization International Maritime Research Council in 1901 and the International Hydrological Bureau (IHB, later International Hydrologic Organization, IHO) In 1921.
For thirty years, the techniques of spatial observations have led to considerable progress in bringing new capacity to the global monitoring of the oceans: by measuring the topography of the sea (called hydrography) and its temporal evolution, by the waves, the surface temperature and biological indicators, collection of oceanographic data measured in situ aboard buoys and boats, etc.
The satellite imaging and altimetry are now central to the activity of satellite oceanography, and are a technique for measuring the relief of the oceans, developed in the 1970s and 1980s, and has seen increased tenfold in terms of accuracy and temporal and spatial coverage capabilities. This progress has been achieved by using data from satellite Franco-American TOPEX/Poseidon launched by Ariane in August 1992.
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