Oceanography, the study of the ocean, is a field that requires a broad understanding of many disciplines, from biology and ecology, to physics and chemistry, to history and geology. The major disciplines of oceanography are geological oceanography, physical oceanography and chemical oceanography. Oceanographers and others involved in these disciplines often work together to unravel the mysteries and unknowns of ocean science. In reading about each of these sub-fields, keep in mind that some of the most important oceanographic discoveries have been made as a result of an integrated, multidisciplinary approach, often involving geologists, chemists, biologists, physical oceanographers and engineers. As a growing global population stresses the ability of our society to produce food, water and shelter, we will continue to look to the oceans to help sustain our basic needs. Advances in technology, combined with demand, will improve our ability to derive food, drinking water, energy sources, waste disposal and transportation from the ocean. It will be up to this and future generations to build upon our existing knowledge of the ocean and its potential to help meet the needs of the world and its inhabitants.

This book covers a wide range of topics, including marine life and ecosystems, ocean circulation, plate tectonics and the geology of the seafloor, and the chemical and physical properties of the ocean. It provides chapters on very different topics under very different settings, some with a focused angle, others with a wider approach, yet all sharing the inspiration that we need to understand the small pieces to put collectively the big picture for a much larger mechanism, the functioning of the ocean as a whole. The modern oceanographic research represents one of the last frontiers of the knowledge of our planet, it depends on the oceans exploration and so it is strictly connected to the development of new technologies. Furthermore, other scientific and social disciplines can provide many fundamental inputs to complete the description of the entire ocean ecosystem.