Oceanic impact on the marine atmospheric circulation

An intermittent filament of cloud bisects Fig. 2.35. The picture is a northern winter geostationary satellite photograph of the Atlantic Ocean. Being winter the filament - the ITCZ - passes south of the West African bulge. Over the land surfaces of both southern Africa and Brazil the ITCZ widens into an extensive cloud band. Swirling frontal systems can be seen crossing the North and South Atlantic. West of these fronts, and in the Trade wind belts, a multitude of small white patches show...

Oceanic forcing by airsea exchange of moisture and heat

We have repeatedly seen the climatic importance of latent heat, transferred to the atmosphere through evaporation. Evaporation and precipitation also help to drive the ocean circulation by creating horizontal density gradients. Evaporation, by removing water and concentrating the dissolved salts, increases salinity, and hence density. Precipitation, by adding water, reduces the salinity, and therefore density. Density gradients produced in this way are less important to the regional ocean...

Solar radiation

The interior of the Sun, where the nuclear reactions occur that ultimately lead to life on Earth, is incredibly hot, at a temperature of several million degrees Celsius. However, the electromagnetic radiation (see Appendix A) that provides the energy for the climate system is derived from the outer layers of the Sun. The greatest amount of radiation comes from the photosphere, a layer some 300 km thick in the solar atmosphere. This varies in temperature from 10000K1 at the bottom to 5000K at...

C VgH

Schematic of bubble bursting at the sea surface. The lower diagram shows a bubble rising through the water which has just reached the air-sea interface. Milliseconds later, in the top diagram, the bubble has burst, with a jet of water, caused by the pressure differences between the bubble and its environment, throwing water droplets into the air. 2.9.2 Breaking waves and marine aerosols Waves break at sea, and on impact with the shore. Fig. 2.24 illustrates important facets of the...

Momentum transfer and drag

The main driving force of the ocean surface circulation is the wind. Blowing over the surface, the wind exerts a stress on the ocean, transferring momentum Fig. 2.23. The balance of forces in the atmospheric boundary layer. The surface wind is deflected in the direction of the pressure gradient force (PGF) due to the retarding effect of drag, which also reduces the size of the Coriolis force, as this is proportional to speed. Note that the Coriolis force must always be at right angles to the...

The oceanic heat balance

The exchange of heat between the ocean and atmosphere principally consists of the four terms discussed above. Solar radiation provides the input to the ocean, and, in most situations, the net long-wave radiation, latent heat and sensible heat result in transfer of energy to the atmosphere. The net heat exchange, Q (in Wm-2), at a location is therefore where QI is the incident solar radiation that is absorbed by the ocean and positive Q indicates addition of energy to the ocean. This expression...

Heat exchange through latent and sensible heat

Radiation dominates the exchange of heat between the atmosphere and ocean. Other physical mechanisms do, however, also contribute to the net heat flux. The most important of these is latent heat transfer. When water is evaporated from the ocean surface energy is supplied to the molecules to free them from the strong inter-molecular bonds within liquid water. This process was discussed in 1.3.1. When the water molecules condense to form water droplets, usually in clouds, this energy is released...

The geosphere

Chichon Plate Boundaries

The geosphere consists of all the solid Earth, from the soil surface, directly in contact with the atmosphere, to the mantle. It is the long-term reservoir of most of the compounds and elements that contribute to the climate system. Direct connection between the interior of this store and the fluid envelopes of the atmosphere and ocean occurs in volcanic eruptions and hydrothermal activity. The former can, if the eruption is large, transport material and gases into the stratosphere. These can...

Radiation

In Fig. 1.11 we saw that 58 of incident solar radiation reaches the Earth's surface on average, about 15 of this is reflected back into space, the proportion varying according to the albedo of the surface. Over the oceans most of the incident solar radiation enters the water, although the albedo depends strongly on the angle at which the Sun's radiation hits the surface. Table 2.1 gives the reflectance of direct sunlight illuminating a calm water surface, over a range of angles of incidence.2...

The atmosphere

The atmosphere is a largely homogeneous mixture of gases, both horizontally and vertically, over the height range important for climate namely the troposphere and stratosphere Fig. 1.3 . The composition of this apparently stable mixture, air, is shown in Table 1.1. The balance of the dominant constituents of air is thought to have evolved considerably over the lifetime of the planet for instance, oxygen is likely to have been a product, rather than a necessity, of life the Gaia hypothesis . The...

Physical interaction between the ocean and atmosphere

The ocean and the atmosphere share a common boundary the air-sea interface. This direct physical contact enables the two fluids1 to exchange energy and matter. In this chapter we will examine these exchanges from a physical perspective, leaving a discussion of the chemical controls on matter, particularly gas, transfer to Chapter 3. Physical interaction between air and sea takes a number of forms. We are all familiar with the production of waves on water, due to wind blowing across the surface....

The thermohaline circulation

The main outline of the thermohaline circulation was seen in Chapter 1 1.3.2, Figs. 1.14 and 1.16 . In regions where surface water is made denser through evaporative salinification, winter cooling, salt rejection during sea-ice formation or sub-ice shelf freezing, sufficiently extreme conditions can result in convection occurring to considerable depths, even to the bottom of the ocean. Along continental shelves and under ice shelves these processes may be widespread. In the open ocean deep...

Winddriven circulation of the ocean

Vorticity Open University 1989

In the last three sections we have seen how the wind acts directly on the ocean and the local effect of ocean surface drag on the atmosphere. The momentum transferred to the water, plus the heat and fresh water, creates pressure gradients in the ocean leading to motion on a larger scale - the thermohaline circulation. This will be considered in 2.12. The larger scale impact of the ocean on the atmosphere is also through the creation of pressure gradients, but via surface heating or cooling. The...

The Ekman spiral and Langmuir circulation

Windrows Water

The orbital motion of water induced by surface waves penetrates some metres beneath the sea surface. The direct effect of the wind, however, penetrates to a depth of scores of metres. This is because of a larger scale physical force balance than the microscale pressure anomalies causing wave motion. The resulting flow varies with depth in the Ekman spiral. Small-scale circulation cells driven by this spiral are known as Langmuir circulation cells. In the winter of 1893 4 Fridtjof Nansen's...

Be

Be concentrated in low and mid-latitudes, especially downwind of sub-tropical deserts such as the Sahara, Arabia, and the Gobi Fig. 4.7 . Desertification is likely to increase such fluxes, and so potentially the biological production stimulated by aeolian iron. 4.2 Climatically active products of marine biological processes Carbon dioxide is a major participant in marine biological processes, as well as being an important greenhouse gas. It has been discussed in several places already, and will...