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Friday, February 03, 2006 

Meteorologist vs Oceanographer

My colleague, a Biologist, getting confuse when reads an analysis written by me about the hydro-oceanographic condition in Seribu Islands. It was occured view years ago when we did a mariculture research together. She needs the hydro-oceanographic analysis to know the effect of oceanographic condition to the distribution of phyto-plankton. She has already calculated the population of phyto-plankton from some sample stations around the Seribu Islands, and to make a distribution analysis she needs my result.

The statement that makes her getting confuse is: "The dominant east wind -during the observation period- generates strong west surface current around the Kelapa Island" (words that makes her confuse are written in bold font). She gives me a question then: "How can east wind (from her understanding it means: "a wind which blows to the east") generating west current (while from her understanding it means: "a current which flows to the west").

Well, nothing wrong with the statement above actually, but you should know a fact about different convention between Meteorologist and Oceanographer when they talk about "direction". If Meteorologist said "east wind" it doesn't mean a wind which blows to the east, but it means a wind which blows from east to the west direction, while if Oceanographer said "west current" it means a current which flows to the west.

Why they have different convention, even though -based on history- some oceanographers (in the very begining of the development of ocean science) are also meteorologists?. Based on some articles this different convention occurs because of different point of view. On land, it is important to know from where the wind blows: any windbreak must be erected in this direction. Where the wind goes is of no consequence. At sea, the important information is where the current goes: a ship exposed to current drift has to stay well clear from obstacles downstream. Where the water comes from is irrelevant.

Does this different convention make problem to them? Of course no, so far they always live hand in hand in perfect harmony... :)

That's why in scientific jornals, pictograms are required to explain certain aspects that cannot be explained through words.

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