Water And Oceanography

Matthew Fontaine Maurys Contributions to the Field of Oceanography

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"Matthew Fontaine Maurys Contributions to the Field of Oceanography"
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As Mathew Fontaine Maury collected data from the logs of whaling ships as well as several other sources, he was able to compile maps showing the widespread species of whales and provided a form of identification for each of the species according to color and other recognizable traits.

The sperm whale is easily identified by its pink color as well as a small diagram of a whale with one spout, and even provided seasonal variations using letters such "W" for winter, "S" for summer etc.

Maury searched for information on the winds and currents that would be encountered as well as the best route for his ship to venture. Since very little information was available at the time, Maury conceived an idea for his "Wind and Current Charts" which was a huge contribution for world commerce while traveling to Rio de Janeiro.

As he would cruise the ocean, he observed and made a study of the low barometer phenomenon which was seen as the sun's rays falling obliquely upon the vapors resting upon the surface of the ocean. The water temperature being around 15 degrees lower than that of the air; the sea appeared to be raised to the upper surface of the stratum, and the ships in the harbor would appear to sink as their hull would gradually disappear while their masts stood out above the vapor.

The whaling industry was very important for the mid-19th-century American Whaling industry with many of its ports in southern New England, and mostly in New Bedford Massachusetts which was documented by the map he was able to provide.

As an American naval officer and oceanographer, he served as the Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Depot of Charts and instruments whereas from the period of 1842 to 1861 he served in the U.S. Naval observatory, and as a result of his dedication to oceanography such as studying wind and currents for the oceans of the world, he was considered the "Father of the science of oceanography."

By using a Mercator projection (A cylindrical map projection in which the meridians and parallels of latitude appear as lines crossing at right angles, and in which areas appear greater farther from the equator,) he was able to construct this detailed map which although not the best it was none the less used for navigational purposes during the 19th century.

John Quincy Adams who was founder of the observatory, and was considered the most intelligent president the United States every had, would enjoy looking at the stars while Maury would chart them, and his ocean maps were so much in demand that he would not distribute them until ship's captains would provide recent logs of their journeys.

Maury relocated to Europe where he taught Physics to officers of several nations until 1868, and then returned to the United States where he taught Physics in V.M.I at Lexington for the remainder of his life.

More about this author: Richard Serra

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