Ocean Dynamics pp 117-136 | Cite as

Approximations Relating to Density Changes and Geometric Conditions

  • Dirk Olbers
  • Jürgen Willebrand
  • Carsten Eden


This chapter explains various approximations which are commonly used for the discussion of the large scale ocean circulation. These approximations are based on the smallness of oceanic density variations – which will lead to the inelastic and ultimately to the Boussinesq approximation, the geometry of the Earth, in particular its almost spherical shape, and the scales of ocean circulation – which lead to the hydrostatic approximation. The combination of all approximations form the so-called primitive equations, which represent the basis of current numerical ocean general circulation models.


Potential Vorticity Geometric Condition Boussinesq Approximation Oblate Spheroidal Ekman Number 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und MeeresforschungBremerhavenGermany
  2. 2.Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften IFM-GEOMARKielGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Marine ScienceUniversity HamburgHamburgGermany

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