Ocean Currents

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Ocean Current and Global Weather
The ocean is the largest habitat for life on earth, and is vital to the land habitats as well. The ocean regulates the earth’s weather patterns. The main force influencing global climate is the solar energy of the fun. Because the earth is a sphere its surface is not heated equally by incoming solar energy. The equatorial areas receive more sunlight while the poles receive less because sunlight strikes at an oblique angle so much of the sunlight are reflected away. Solar radiation striking the ocean near the equator warms the surface water and causes evaporation. Half of the incoming solar energy is utilized in converting water from the dense liquid to the lighter gaseous state. As the water vapor rises into the atmosphere and away from the equator it cools, condenses and falls as rain or dew. With the lightweight gaseous water vapor removed the dry air is heavy and denser and begins to sink. The area of lighter air rising near the equator creates a low pressure zone, whereas the areas of heavy, sinking air to the north and south of the equator create high pressure zones. Together the pressure zones form a weather cell. There are three types of weather cells; equatorial cell, mid-latitude cell and polar cell. These cells act as heat pumps driven by solar radiation and the evaporation of sea water. When the water vapor in the atmosphere condenses, the stored heat required for its evaporation is released and it warms the air above the higher latitudes. Weather cells redistribute 2/3 of the equatorial solar radiation to the rest of the globe. The rest is redistributed by ocean currents.

Air flows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. This flowing air is called wind. The winds in the equatorial weather cells blow towards the equator. Winds are deflected relative to the earth’s spinning surface in phenomenon known as the Coriolis Effect. The winds flowing towards the equator from both hemispheres receive a...
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