Physics of Aquatic Systems

summer term 2023
Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Werner Aeschbach
Link to LSF
55 participants

General information

This platform – the physics department's exercise management system – serves for registration and for the electronic handling of the exercises (i.e., you can upload your solutions here).

The central platform for this lecture is a moodle page that will be announced soon, with the code for registration to be distributed via e-mail to students registered here. There you will find the material for the lectures (lecture notes and slides, additional information and links) well in advance of the scheduled lecture times. You will also find exercise sheets with problems to solve for download there (but the upload of solutions is via this site here).

The lecture takes place in person without synchronous online transmission. However, videos for asynchronous study from the previous years will be made available via the moodle site. These videos will not be updated and are only meant as a backup for students who may not be able to attend in person at some dates.

Remarks on the contents

„Aquatic Physics“ or „Physics of Aquatic Systems“ is a part of environmental physics that deals with physical processes in natural waters such as oceans, lakes, rivers, and groundwater. The importance of studying the hydrosphere follows on the one hand from the sheer size of the oceans and their pivotal role in the climate system, on the other hand from the limited fresh water reserves and the related societal problems. The focus of this lecture lies on the most important continental water reservoirs, lakes and groundwaters. However, fundamentals of physical oceano­graphy are also treated.

In the first part of the lecture, the physical properties of water and the aquatic systems, as well as the physical processes in these systems are treated. The laws of fluid dynamics (e.g., Navier-Stokes), as well as the theory of transport processes (e.g., advection, (turbulent) diffusion, heat and gas exchange), which are known from the general lecture on environmental physics (MKEP4) are applied to these special systems.

The second part of the lecture deals with the application of environmental tracer methods to study aquatic systems, the so-called isotope hydrology. In this part, various tracers (e.g., stable isotopes, 3H, noble and transient gases, 14C) and the basics of the respective methods are introduced and it is shown how these methods can be applied to determine physical parameters of aquatic systems.

The lecture "Physics of Aquatic Systems" is part of the Master programme in physics. However, it can also be heard by Bachelor students. Knowledge from the general lecture on environmental physics (MKEP4) is presupposed.

Online textbooks for this lecture:

Stewart, R. H., 2008. Introduction to Physical Oceanography. On-line textbook, available at

Mook, W.G. (ed.), 2001: UNESCO/IAEA Series on Environmental Isotopes in the Hydrological Cycle - Principles and Applications. Available online at

W. Aeschbach
March 2023

Practice groups

  • Group 1 (Werner Aeschbach)
    28 participants
    INF 229 / SR 108/110, Fri 11:15 - 12:00
  • Group 2 (Edith Engelhardt)
    27 participants
    INF 229 / SR 108/110, Mon 16:15 - 17:00
Physics of Aquatic Systems
summer term 2023
Link zum LSF
55 participants