Oceanography is the study of the oceans and is vital in understanding weather and
climate as well.
Oceans play 3 important roles in determining weather and climate:
They are the source of atmospheric water vapor
They exchange energy with the atmosphere
They transfer heat poleward through ocean currents
The oceans provide the majority of water needed to form precipitation.
On average, the ocean gains energy during the summer and loses it in winter, and
the maximum exchanges of energy occur in the Northern Hemisphere winter to
the east of North America and Asia where warm ocean currents flow poleward.
In maintaining the Earth’s radiation balance, around 30° latitude, the ocean and
atmosphere each transport about the same amount of heat, whereas Equatorward
of 30°, the ocean transfers the majority of heat required to maintain balance.
The oceans and atmosphere work together to maintain balance, through winds,
currents, and atmospheric conditions.
The ocean can be classified into three different vertical zones based on
Surface Zone-uniform or mixed layer, constant temperature due to wind
mixing, around 2% of world’s ocean waters are within this zone.
Deep Zone- bottom layer, below 1000 meters, cold water at temperatures
between 1° and 3° C, temperature is uniform in this layer.
Thermocline- transition zone between Surface and Deep layer,
temperature decreases rapidly with depth down to 1000 meters.
The zones can change depending on latitude, although the deep zone is the same
in all regions (Polar, Mid-latitude, and Tropical).
Interactions between the atmosphere and ocean occur at the surface and result in
the transfer of heat and moisture, so Sea Surface Temperature (SST) distribution
An Ocean Current is a massive, ordered pattern of water flow. They closely
resemble surface wind patterns.
In general, warm currents tend to flow poleward or westward, while cold currents
tend to flow toward the Equator.
Gyre- an ocean circulation that forms a closed loop that stretches across and entire
Surface currents generally flow at an angle of around 45° to the wind to
of the wind in the
and to the
of the wind in
, due to Coriolis and Friction forces.