Tuesday, February 5, 2013

OCEANS AND WEATHER by Tabitha Fish



We have heard that the oceans have an affect on the weather.  But how? 
Oceans are the largest water masses on the planet.  Since oceans are already in liquid form, they are able to absorb more heat, more effectively than snowy, icy surface or land.  The earths movements and wind currents cause the oceans to circulate, causing friction over the waters surface, resulting in waves and currents. Farther down the ocean we go, the colder the water becomes.  Salinity and density play a role its ability to move or change temperature.
Add all these factors, stored heat, wind, currents, temperature on land, together and the atmospheric conditions are altered.  Tropical storms form over warm water, which help form hurricanes and typhoons. In the winter, storms produce precipitation in the Western regions, causing a cooling in air temperature. 
The tremendous thermal and dynamic inertia slows and dampens climate change.  Ocean currents and mixing by winds and waves can transport and redistribute heat to deeper ocean layers. It can reside in this deep reservoir for centuries, further stabilizing the Earth’s climate and slowing the effects of climate change.
Ocean currents transport and redistribute heat and salt, playing an important role in the climate.  The western boundary currents and eastern boundary undercurrents transport heat from the tropics toward the poles, acting like a conveyor belt. The rate that heat is redistributed through the oceans can be changed by the slightest of fluctuations.  Sudden shifts in these currents are thought to have initiated past ice ages.


World ocean thermohaline circulation (alternative version)

 

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