Physics and Physiology of Depth


Many divers understand potential diseases and problems that are associated with diving. But what of the science that compels the body to produce these problems? This module discusses basic concepts of physics and physiology that occur as people go diving under water.

Upon completing this course, the learner will be able to:

  • Understand the basic laws of pressure
  • Describe the relationship between hydrostatic and atmospheric pressure
  • Identify the common units of pressure used in diving
  • Understand gauge pressure
  • Understand the relationship between pressure, density, and temperature under water
  • Recognize the changes in wet suits at depth
  • Describe Boyle’s, Charles’, and Dalton’s laws
  • Describe Pascal’s and Henry’s laws
  • Understand Archimedes’ Principle
  • Describe the visual changes in color at depth
  • Recognize changes in sound at depth
  • Understand the visual distortions that occur at depth

Objectives: After viewing a specific learning module from the AWLS Online Lecture Library, participants in the AdventureMed Online Lecture CME Program should be able to demonstrate an increase in, or affirmation of, their knowledge of wilderness medicine. Participants should be able to evaluate the appropriateness of the information as it applies to the provision of patient care or counseling.

Participants: This program is designed for physicians caring for individuals with wilderness medical problems or counseling patients about avoiding wilderness-related health problems who wish to advance their knowledge of wilderness medicine.

Credits: The Wilderness Medical Society designates this educational activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the Wilderness Medical Society and AdventureMed. The Wilderness Medical Society is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The American Association of Physician Assistants accepts Category 1 CME approval from organizations accredited by the ACCME. All other medical professionals check with your governing entity to determine usefulness of AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.

Disclaimer: The faculty and AdventureMed staff involved with this educational activity have signed disclosure statements indicating they have no conflicts of interest or relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest with respect to this course content.

Privacy and Confidentiality: The WMS does not disclose any information related to CME credit activity except directly to you and in aggregate form to the accrediting entity.

Media and Method: The media used to deliver this educational product is question and case based learning delivered online. To complete this activity, learners must have an internet-ready computer. While viewing the presentation, the learner provides reflection and evaluation.

Principal faculty: Richard Ingebretsen, MD, PhD. Time to complete educational activity: 1.00 hour. Date of original release: 3/1/2016. Module expires 4-7-2023


Would you like to receive FAWM (Fellows of Academy of Wilderness Medicine) credit for this course?

Send a copy of your completion certificate to FAWM. Be sure to provide your mailing address and email address.


Fax: 801-990-4601

By Mail: 2150 S 1300 E, Suite 500
Salt Lake City, Utah 84106