Crucial times for Spanish physical oceanography


  • Josep L. Pelegrí Departament d’Oceanografia Física, Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC - l’Observatori Català de l’Oceà, l’OCEÀ
  • Enrique Álvarez-Fanjul Puertos del Estado
  • Manuel Espino l’Observatori Català de l’Oceà, l’OCEÀ - Laboratori d’Enginyeria Marítima, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
  • Jordi Font Departament d’Oceanografia Física, Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC - l’Observatori Català de l’Oceà, l’OCEÀ
  • Gregorio Parrilla Instituto Español de Oceanografía
  • Agustín Sánchez-Arcilla l’Observatori Català de l’Oceà, l’OCEÀ - Laboratori d’Enginyeria Marítima, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya



physical oceanography, Spain, history, human capital, partnership, society-oriented research


The field of physical oceanography has undergone exponential growth in Spain during the last few decades. From a handful of self-taught researchers in the late 1960s there are now several hundred physical oceanographers distributed in some 20 Spanish institutions, and many more working overseas. The First Spanish Physical Oceanography Meeting (EOF1), held in Barcelona in October 2010, was a good example of the high quality and large variety of this research. The facilities and human resources are excellent but the alarming decrease in public investment in science due to the economic crisis must lead the Spanish physical oceanography community to define its current priorities. In this introductory paper to EOF1 we revise our history and where we are now, and suggest that progress in the near future will rely on our intelligence to sustain and enhance human capital, partnership and society-oriented research.


Download data is not yet available.


Alvarez Fanjul E., Alfonso M., Ruiz M.I., López J.D., Rodríguez I. 2003. Real time monitoring of Spanish coastal waters: The deep water network. In: Dahlin H., Flemming N.C., Nittis K., Petersson S.E. (eds.), Building the European Capacity in Operational Oceanography: Proceedings 3rd EuroGOOS Conference, Vol. 69 Elsevier Science.

Alvarez Fanjul E., Losada I., Tintoré Subirana J., Menéndez J., Espino M., Parrilla G., Martínez V.I., Muñizurri V.P. 2007. The ESEOO Project: developments and perspectives for Operational Oceanography at Spain. Proceedings of the 17th (2007) International Offshore Ocean and Polar Engineering Conference (ISOPE-2007), Lisbon, Portugal.

Arístegui J., Tett P., Hernández-Guerra A., Basterretxea G., Montero M.F., Wild K, Sangrà P., Hernández-León S., Cantón M., García-Braun J.A., Pacheco M., Barton E.D. 1997. The influence of island-generated eddies on chlorophyll distribution: a study of mesoscale variation around Gran Canaria. Deep-Sea Res. I 44: 71-96.

Barton E.D. 2009. Informe de la Campaña "CAIBEX-I" con el B/O Sarmiento de Gamboa, Cabo Sileiro, Galicia, 6-24 Julio 2009. Reporte Técnico, Subprograma Nacional de Ciencias y Tecnologías Marinas.

Bastida I., Planella J., Roget E., Guillén J., Puig P., Sánchez X. 2012. Mixing dynamics at the inner shelf of the Ebro Delta. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 31-43.

Bjerknes V., Bjerknes J., Solberg H., Bergeron Y.T. 1933. Physikalische Hydrodynamik mitdnwefidung auf diedynamische Meteorologic. Verlag Julius Springer, Berlin.

Black J., Manfredi D. 2007. A biography of Alexandro Malaspina. Malaspina University-College.

Bode A., Lavín A., Valdés L. 2012. Cambio climático y oceanográfico en el Atlántico del norte de España. Temas de Oceanografía 5, Instituto Español de Oceanografía, 280 pp.

Bryden H.L., Kinder T.H. 1986. Gibraltar Experiment: A plan for dynamic and kinematic investigations of strait mixing, exchange and turbulence. Woods Hole Oceanogr. Inst. Tech. Rept., WHOI-86-29, 82 pp.

Claret M., Rodríguez R., Pelegrí J.L. 2012. Salinity intrusion and convective mixing in the Atlantic Equatorial Undercurrent. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 117-129.

Costa P., Gómez B., Venâncio A., Pérez E., Pérez-Muñuzuri, V. 2012. Using the Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) to improve the sea surface temperature from MERCATOR Ocean System. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 165-175.

Deacon M.B. 1998. How the Science of Oceanography developed. In: Summerhayes C.P., Thorpe S.A. (eds.), Oceanography. An illustrated guide. Manson Publishing Lte., pp. 9-26. PMid: 9502203

Delgado J., García-Lafuente J., Naranjo C., Bruque E. 2012. Two decades of mesoscale phenomena on either side of the Strait Gibraltar. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 95-102.

Dickey T.D., Bidigare R.R. 2005. Interdisciplinary oceanographic observations: the wave of the future. Sci. Mar. 69 (S1): 23-42.

Donde Va Group. 1984. An oceanographic experiment in the Alboran Sea. EOS Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union 65: 682-683.

Duarte C.M., Delgado M.J., Tintoré J., Parrilla G. 1999. El programa de Ciencias y Tecnologías Marinas (MAST III). In: Delgado M.J., Duarte C.M., Tintoré J., Parrilla G. (eds.), El pulso de las Ciencias Marinas en España. Dirección General de Enseñanza Superior e Investigación Científica. Ministerio de Educación y Cultura. ISBN 84-00-07963-9. Madrid, pp. 32-45. PMid: 12555356

Duarte C.M., Acuña J.L., Álvarez Salgado X.A., Blasco D., Bordons M., Costas R., Dañobeitia J.J., Hernández León S., Losada I.J., Morales B., Nombela M.A., Ruiz J., Zanuy S. 2006. Las Ciencias y Tecnologías Marinas en España. CSIC, 292 pp.

Emelianov M., Claret M., Fraile-Nuez E., Pastor M.V., Laiz I., Salvador J., Pelegrí J.L., Turiel A. 2012. Detection of a weak meddy-like anomaly from high-resolution satellite SST maps. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 229-234.

Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency. 2011. The Future of Operational Oceanography: ideas, methods and products. ( Hamburg, Germany, 25 to 27 October 2011.

Font J., Ballabrera-Poy J., Camps A., Corbella I., Duffo N., Duran I., Emelianov M., Enrique L., Fernández P., Gabarró C., González C., González V., Gourrion J., Guimbard S., Hoareau N., Julià A., Kalaroni S., Konstantinidou A., Aretxabaleta A.L., Martínez J., Miranda J., Monerris A., Montero S., Mourre B., Pablos M., Pérez F., Piles M., Portabella M., Sabia R., Salvador J., Talone M., Torres F., Turiel A., Vall-llossera M., Villarino R. 2012. A new space technology for ocean observation: the SMOS mission. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 249-259.

Fraile-Nuez E., Plaza F., Hernández-Guerra A., Vargas-Yanez M., Lavín A. 2008. Mass transport in the Bay of Biscay from an inverse box model. J. Geophys. Res. 113: C06023.

García-Nava H., Ocampo-Torres F.J., Hwang P.A. 2012. On the parametrization of the drag coefficient in mixed seas. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 177-186.

García-Olivares A., Herrero C. 2012. Fitting the last Pleistocene delta O-18 and CO2 time-series with simple box models. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 209-218.

Gomis D., García M.A., López O., Pascual A. 2002. Quasi-geostrophic 3D circulation and mass transport in the western Bransfield Strait during Austral summer 1995/96. Deep-Sea Res. II 49: 603-621.

González J., Herrera J.L., Varela R.A. 2012 A design proposal of real time monitoring stations: implementation and performance in contrasting environmental conditions. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 235-248.

Grifoll M., Jordà G., Sotillo M.G., Ferrer L., Espino M., Sánchez-Arcilla A., Álvarez-Fanjul E. 2012. Water circulation forecasting in Spanish harbours. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 45-61.

Guerra A., Prego R. 2003. El Instituto de Investigaciones Pesqueras. Tres décadas de historia de la investigación marina española. Serie de Estudios sobre la Ciencia, 33, CSIC, 341 pp.

Guerra A., Prego R. 2011. Origen y desarrollo de la investigación marina en el CSIC. In: Puig-Samper M.A., Rebok S. (eds.), España Explora Malaspina 2010. Lunwerg, pp. 109-117.

Hempel G. 1982. The Canary Current: Studies of an Upwelling System. ICES, Rapports et Procès-verbeaux des Réunions, 180. Hernández-Guerra A., Joyce T.M., Fraile-Nuez E., Vélez-Belchi P. 2010. Using Argo data to investigate the Meridional Overturning Circulation in the North Atlantic. Deep-Sea Res. I 57: 29-36.

IEO. 1989. El Instituto Español de Oceanografía. 75 años de investigación marina en España. Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación. Secretaría Técnica, Madrid, 163 pp.

Jochum M., Murtugudde R. 2006. Physical Oceanography: Developments since 1950. Springer, 259 pp.

Jordà G., Gomis D., Álvarez-Fanjul E. 2012. The VANI2-ERA hindcast of sea level residuals: Atmospheric forcing of sea level variability in the Mediterranean Sea (1958-2008). Sci. Mar. 76S1: 133-146.

Kinder T.H., Bryden H.L. 1988. Gibraltar Experiment. Summary of the Field Program and Initial Results of the Gibraltar Experiment. Woods Hole Oceanogr. Inst. Tech. Rept., WHOI-88-30, 121 pp.

Lueck R.G., Wolk F., Yamazaki H. 2002. Oceanic velocity microstructure measurements in the 20th century. J. Oceanogr. 58: 153-174.

Margalef R. 1971. Una campaña oceanográfica del "Coornide de Saavedra" en la región de afloramiento del noroeste africano. Inv. Pes. 35(supl.): 1-39.

Martín Míguez B., Testut L., Wöppelmann G. 2012. Performance of modern tide gauges: towards mm-level accuracy. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 221-228.

Martín-Rey M., Polo I., Rodríguez-Fonseca B., Kucharski F. 2012. Changes in the Interannual Variability of the Tropical Pacific as a response to an equatorial Atlantic forcing. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 105-116.

Mason E., Colas F., Pelegrí J.L. 2012. A Lagrangian study tracing water parcel origins in the Canary Upwelling System. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 79-94.

Munk W. 2002. The evolution of Physical Oceanography in the last hundred years. Oceanogr. 15: 135-141

Ospina-Álvarez N., Prego R., Alvarez I., deCastro M., Alvarez-Ossorio M.T., Pazos Y., Campos M.J., Bernardez P., García-Soto C., Gómez-Gesteira M., Varela M. 2010. Oceanographical patterns during a summer upwelling-downwelling event in the Northern Galician Rias: Comparison with the whole Ria system (NW of Iberian Peninsula). Cont. Shelf Res. 30: 1362-1372.

Palanques A., García-Ladona E., Gomis D., Martín J., Marcos M., Pascual A., Puig P., Gili J.M., Emelianov M., Montserrat S., Guillén J., Tintoré J., Segura M., Jordi A., Ruis S., Basterretxea G., Font J., Blasco D., Pagès F. 2005. General patterns of circulation, sediment fluxes and ecology of the Palamós (La Fonera) submarine canyon, north western Mediterranean. Prog. Oceanogr. 66: 89-119.

Parrilla G. 1984. Meeting Report, Donde Va? Fuengirola, October, 1983, Instituto Espanol de Oceanografía.

Parrilla G., Lavín A., Bryden H., García M., Millard R. 1994. Rising temperatures in the subtropical North-Atlantic Ocean over the past 35 years. Nature 369(6475): 48-51.

Parrilla-Barrera G. 2005. Odón de Buen, forerunner of Spanish oceanography. Oceanogr. 18: 128-135.

Peña-Izquierdo J., Pelegrí J.L., Pastor M.V., Castellanos P., Emelianov M., Gasser M., Salvador J., Vázquez-Domínguez E. 2012. The continental slope current system between Cape Verde and the Canary Islands. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 65-78.

Perez F.F., Castro C.G., Álvarez-Salgado X.A., Rios A.F. 2001. Coupling between the Iberian basin - scale circulation and the Portugal boundary current system: a chemical study. Deep-Sea Res. I 48: 1519-1533

Pérez de Rubín J. 2004. El Instituto Español de Oceanografía: sus orígenes y primeras investigaciones. IEO, 42 pp.

Pérez-Rubín Feigl J. 2011. Las ciencias marinas: sus orígenes y el desarrollo del Instituto Español de Oceanografía (1850-1985). In: Puig-Samper M.A., Rebok S. (eds.), España Explora Malaspina 2010. Lunwerg, pp. 97-108.

Pimentel J. 2011. La expedición Malaspina en el Pacífico Sur. Entre el Panóptico y la Arcadia. In: Puig-Samper M.A., Rebok S. (eds.), España Explora Malaspina 2010. Lunwerg, pp. 74-83.

Puig-Samper M.A., Rebok S. 2011. España Explora Malaspina 2010. Lunwerg, 343 pp.

Richardson P.L. 2008. On the history of meridional overturning circulation schematic diagrams. Progr. Oceanogr. 76: 466-486.

Ruiz S., Renault L., Garau B., Tintorè J. 2012. Underwater glider observations and modeling of an abrupt mixing event in the upper ocean. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39: L01603.

Ruiz S., Garau B., Martínez-Ledesma M., Casas B., Pascual A., Vizoso G., Bouffard J., Heslop E., Alvarez A., Testor P., Tintoré J. 2012. New technologies for marine research: 5 years of glider activities at IMEDEA. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 261-270.

Ruiz Cañavate A., Villanueva P., Rico J., Morales F., Arjonilla M., Villalobos J. 1986. Experimento Gibraltar, Informe de datos CTD, Octubre-Noviembre 1986. Instituto Hidrografico de la Marina, Cadiz, 86 pp.

Salat J. 1995. The interaction between the catalan and balearic currents in the southern Catalan Sea. Oceanol. Acta 18: 227-234.

Salat J., Tintoré J., Font J., Wang D.P, Vieira M. 1992. Near-inertial motion on the shelf-slope front off northeast Spain. J. Geophys. Res. 97: 7277-7281.

San Antolín Plaza M.A., Pelegrí J.L., Machín F.J., Benítez-Barrios V. 2012. Inter-decadal changes in stratification and double-diffusion in a transatlantic section along 7.5°N. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 189-207.

Sánchez-Carrillo A. 2001. Los oceanógrafos españoles en el exilio: la familia De Buen y sus aportaciones a la ciencia española y mexicana. In: Sánchez Andrés A., Figueroa Zamudio S. (eds.), El exilio español y su impacto sobre el pensamiento, la ciencia y el sistema educativo mexicano. Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás Hidalgo y Comunidad de Madrid, 40 pp.

Sangrà P., Gordo C., Hernández-Arencibia M., Marrero-Díaz A., Rodríguez-Santana A., Stegner A., Martínez-Marrero A., Pelegrí J.L., Pichon T. 2011. The Bransfield Current System. Deep-Sea Res. I 58: 390-402.

Stommel H. 1989. Why we are oceanographers. Oceanogr. 2: 48-54.

Sverdrup H.U., Johnson M.W., Fleming R.H. 1942. The Oceans: Their Physis, Chemistry and General Biology. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Talley L.D., Pickard G.L., Emery W. J., Swift J.H. 2011. Descriptive Physical Ocanography: An Introduction. Sixth Edition, Elsevier.

UNESCO. 1974. The International Decade of Ocean Exploration (IDOE) 1971-1980. Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission technical series, 13, 87 pp. Vargas Yáñez M., García Martínez M.C., Moya Ruiz F., Tel E., Parrilla G., Plaza F., Lavín A. 2007. Cambio climático en el Mediterráneo español. Temas de Oceanografía 1, Instituto Español de Oceanografía, 171 pp.

Vidal-Vijande E., Pascual A., Barnier B., Molines J.-M., Ferry N., Tintore J. 2012. Multiparametric analysis and validation in the Western Mediterranean of three global OGCM hindcasts. Sci. Mar. 76S1: 147-164.

Viudez A., Tintoré J., Haney R.L. 1996. Circulation in the Alboran Sea as determined by quasi-synoptic hydrographic observations. Part I: Three-dimensional structure gyres. J. Phys. Oceanogr. 26: 684-705.<0684:CITASA>2.0.CO;2

Wangersky P.J. 2005. Methods of sampling and analysis of our concepts of ocean dynamics. Sci. Mar. 69(Suppl. 1): 75-84.

Wunsch C. 2002. How did WOCE turn out? Int. WOCE Newsletter 43: 4-9.




How to Cite

Pelegrí JL, Álvarez-Fanjul E, Espino M, Font J, Parrilla G, Sánchez-Arcilla A. Crucial times for Spanish physical oceanography. scimar [Internet]. 2012Sep.30 [cited 2023Dec.3];76(S1):11-28. Available from:




Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 > >>