OLP 3: The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate

Representative Image


Image caption

Fig. 1. OLP 3. Hurricane Ike approaching the Texas coast on September 12, 2008.

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Image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Environmental Visualization Laboratory

The interaction of oceanic and atmospheric processes controls Earth’s weather and climate. For example, the heat transferred from the tropical ocean provides the energy that drives atmospheric circulation, including hurricanes, cyclones, and polar storms (Fig. 1).



The interaction of oceanic and atmospheric processes controls weather and climate by dominating the Earth’s energy, water, and carbon systems.


The ocean moderates global weather and climate by absorbing most of the solar radiation reaching the Earth. Heat exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere drives the water cycle and oceanic and atmospheric circulation.


Condensation of water that evaporated from warm seas provides the energy for hurricanes and cyclones. Most rain that falls on land originally evaporated from the tropical ocean.

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Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawai?i, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.