Friday, 19th April 2019


Oceanographers are marine scientists who focus their research and study on the movements and nature of the sea, and the science behind its behaviour. They specifically employ mathematical, engineering and scientific theories to examine the relationship between freshwater, seawater, the biosphere and the atmosphere.

Oceanography is a broad area of study and can incorporate many disciplines. Oceanographers may research the effects of climate change on the oceans, as well as the environmental concerns connected with the impact of pollution and off-shore industrial drilling on the marine ecosystems.

Their role can vary depending on what they specialise in, but generally, they work to better understand the changing nature of the ocean, it's life-forms and its sea-beds.

Oceanographers may choose to specialise in one of the following:

  • Marine geology - studying the ocean floors and processes that form mountains, structures and movements of plate tectonics
  • Marine chemistry - studying the chemical composition of the water, the effects of pollution and the effects of the chemical processes on the lifeforms
  • Marine physics - studying the physical movements of the sea, including tides, waves, currents and coastal erosion
  • Marine biology - studying the microorganisms of the sea and sea life, and understanding the animals and lifeforms that live in the sea

Oceanographers will have different tasks depending on what they specialise in, but will usually have to collect samples, using specialist equipment and expert techniques, and analyse them under laboratory settings using sophisticated software and processes. These samples could include water, minerals, or samples from deep underneath the sea-bed.

Mathematical skill and knowledge of physics comes into play a lot more for oceanographers than for other marine scientists, as they need to study ocean simulations and record and analyse vast amounts of data. They may require expertise in statistical analysis when making predictions about trends in the ocean’s movement and behaviour. They also need to keep up-to-date with the latest research in their field, attending lectures and presentations, and writing up their own research papers.

There are a number of types of organisations that are likely to employ oceanographers, including universities, government departments, environmental agencies, consultancies and research institutions.