Mark Brandon

Mark Brandon

I am a polar oceanographer working at The Open University.
My web links are:

Location London, UK


  • I personally love to look at the sky with binoculars a lot. But its worth pointing out that the ship is not stationary. Even when you are totally used to the ships motion, the stars that you are staring at move!

    (Also of course at high latitudes it is often light all the time!)

    Mars and Venus on the horizon are massively impressive though.

  • All of those! I came back from one trip to find that my house had been decorated by my partner!

    "Oh I thought we had discussed it"....

    But without meaning to sound trivial if you can't cope with living apart from your partner then you can't live together easily. I am not saying I don't miss her - but we cope. I feel different about my children though.

  • Ah but I find that I miss washing up (weird I know), and also you really long for particular foods that you like but can't get. Really simple things usually.

  • I only know 2 people who were chronic sea sick people in that they never got over it. One of those was Charles Darwin!

    I would also add that no-one looks like they are are fully prepared for work at 0330 in the morning!

  • er... yes! But these days it is optional by which I mean you get asked if you want to participate in the ceremony. No one has refused when I have been on board.
    Also there is the crossing of the Antarctic and Arctic circles (you become a so called "blue nose").

    For that I was put over the side of the ship in a cage and a hose set on us.

    The hose was...

  • None in the UK. And also interestingly none in the British Antarctic Survey (where I used to work) either. Most people are fairly well rounded and there the very occasional problems with personalities.

  • I would say be positive! It does wear off after a couple of days at most and it is only a very few people who don't get over it. The biggest recommends I could make would be to stay hydrated, to only eat if you feel hungry, and to get make sure you get enough sleep.
    Have a successful trip!

  • Not strictly true... It depends on the background temperature of the water. At cold temperatures it is the salinity which has the much higher effect, at warm temperatures the reverse.
    Water is an astonishing substance. Do you know any other liquid where the solid is *less* dense than the liquid and floats?

  • Definately Salinity! You will find out this later in the course when the chemist step in.

  • Sorry Jonathan, its not of course you. A couple of hundred words is always going to be hard - but take away that it is a balance of forces and vorticity that causes the western intensification and western boundary current, and it is the same combination of forces which makes for the weak boundary current on the East

  • Just go with the concepts Jim and Sarah. Millie is right - this is tough stuff. But the key point is the balance of forces means on one side of a gyre we always get a strong current (western boundary current), and on the other a weak one (eastern boundary current).

  • Just think of vorticity as all the bits of rotation added up. The difficulty is we have different ways of looking at things. (In physics you call these frames of reference). If I stand talking to you we are both not moving. But to someone in space we are standing on a planet which is rotating once per day. So we have some rotation even though we cant directly...

  • That is actually a great question Jack. Today we use a vast number of techniques to map ocean currents such as the modern take on ocean drifters called Argo Buoys
    If you look at that picture you will see all the currently working ocean drifters. The report back their temperature, salinity and position...

  • No sadly. It's just one to enjoy.

  • Hi Jonathan, it's not through averaging but through simply adding the magnitudes of the different components together.
    You could have a scan of the following article to see if that helps:

    About how they vary with latitude and longitude, that is not trivial. The...

  • You suddenly get how it works don't you.

  • If you are interested with the D Day prediction there was a great article a few years ago in the magazine Physics Today:
    It's definitely worth a read.

  • There is no doubt that the natural environment has a lot of variables in, which makes it hard to predict. But we have made astonishing leaps in understanding in the last decades. The weather forecasts for the next four trays are now as reliable as the used to be for only the next day. It is similar with tidal. Predictions. Today there are satellites with radar...

  • We won't be but thanks for posting that. We thought it was too much details or this - but whilst in the background, it will be critical in the next step of the course.

  • The predictions are pretty good now everywhere, but in somewhere where there is less land to get in the way, and no wide shallow shelf which increases friction between the water and the sea bed, it will be - as you say - good.

  • Glad you think it's clear. I always find it a bit shocking when people are cut off by one of the most predictable natural events, for example

  • It comes down then to Newton's law of gravitation. The correct answer is that it will, but relatively speaking the mass of water in the bulges will be so small as to make a no easily observable difference.
    Good question though!

  • That's a great link David. You can find them online too for the rest of the planet.
    and Carol, yes you are right, it's the tidal bulges flowing around different headlands. Ultimately it's down to the different frequencies cancelling themselves out.

  • Fantastic voice and lovely video. Challenger was amazing.