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education Updated: Sep 24, 2013 16:34 IST
Hindustan Times
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The lowdown

Oceanography is for those who love the sea and are fascinated by the multitude of life it supports and affects. A part of life sciences, oceanography includes study of currents, waves, plate tectonics, geology of the sea floor and all the chemical and physical ­processes related to the oceans. India has about 600 ­oceanographers, excluding researchers in the industry. Oceanographers are involved in assignments in government organisations, national laboratories, universities, and other organisations. Organisations requiring their expertise include the National Institute of Oceanography, Centre for Earth Science Studies, Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory, National Institute of Ocean Technology etc. This science has special significance in these times as it helps scientists ­understand the impact of global climate changes, especially global warming and the oceans are linked to the atmosphere because of ­vapourisation, condensation and precipitation, etc. The biological branch of this science is aligned with marine ­biology and is related to study of organisms and their ocean environment. Chemical ­oceanography studies ocean chemistry and its chemical ­interaction with the atmosphere. Geology includes study of the geology of the ocean floor. Physical ­oceanography is study of the ocean’s ­temperature-salinity ­structure, waves, tides etc

In an average day on land, this is what an oceanographer’s timetable might look like:
9am: Get to office. Discuss projects with PhD students. Monitor ­experiments
1.15pm: Lunch
2pm: Analyse samples. Write a research paper, visit the library for reference work. Manage administrative work related to ­ongoing and future research
5.30pm: Leave the laboratory for the day.
On a ship, work goes on 24/7. Crew members have two shifts of four hours each in a day. For scientists, the shift is adjusted according to experiments

The ­payoff
An entry-level scientist with a ­masters/or PhD degree earns a gross salary of around Rs. 30,000 per month. The pay can go up to Rs. 1.5 lakh per month at senior ­levels. In addition, almost all ­scientific ­institutions under the Government of India provide ­additional benefits such as free medical assistance (for the scientist’s family, too), leave travel ­concession, leave encashment ­(limited) on retirement etc. In ­academic ­institutions, the ­entry-level salary will be at par with an assistant ­professor’s pay

* Scientific bent of mind
* Good observation and analytical skills
* Good knowledge of basic sciences
* Unbridled quriosity about the ­functioning of oceans in ­particular and the earth system in general
* Programming/computing skills
* Ability to work for long periods of time, ­physical stamina, and, of course, a high tolerance to motion ­sickness

Getting there
Study science (preferably with maths) in Class 11 and Class 12. The entry requirements for masters in oceanography vary. Universities ask for bachelors/masters in various ­disciplines, including biology, ­chemistry, geology, marine geology, marine geophysics, etc. or associate membership of the Institution of Engineers in specified branches. After masters degree, candidates need to pass the UGC-CSIR national eligibility test (for basic sciences) or the graduate aptitude test in ­engineering (for engineering) to enroll for a PhD programme

Institutes and URLs
* National Institute of Oceanography, Goa;
* Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi;
* Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu;
* Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and Madras;
www.iitkgp.ac.in, www.iitm.ac.in
* Mangalore University;
* Andhra University, Visakhapatnam;
* Department of Marine Sciences, Goa University,;
* School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata;

Pros and cons
* Interesting work, can have great impact in solving environmental problems
* Can be highly stressful at times

An oceanographer has to continuously enhance his/her knowledge about the seas and use it for the benefit of the society. One’s sole objective should be to explore wealth of the oceans R Banerjee, chief ­scientist, National Institute of ­Oceanography, Goa