Oceanography is the science of the sea. It compasses currents, waves and the physical properties of seawater. Oceanography even includes the interaction of the sea with the atmosphere and with run-off from land.

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Oceanographers may be interested in the chemistry of seawater, its biology or even geology. It is an interdisciplinary science: oceanographers study how and geology biology affect and are affected by the physics and chemistry of seawater. By observing and collecting data about the status of the sea, an oceanographer can make a forecast of how these will change.

Ships in the open sea can use information about currents and waves to predict the fastest and safest route to take, as well as avoiding different types of ice. In coastal areas this information can be important to everybody living close to the sea: there are risks of flooding, oil spills, shipping accidents and more.

Structures that affect the sea, such as harbours, bridges and outlets have to take oceanographic parameters into consideration. They must resist waves and currents, yet be economically viable and not unduly disruptive to the environment. The collected understanding of the sea and its environment helps us to understand how it is affected by human activity both in the short and long term, by for example, oil spills, release of contaminants and hazardous substances, excessive use of fertilizers or the effects of climate change.