Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963893 | Print ISBN: 9781412958783 | Online ISBN: 9781412963893| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Modeling of Ocean Circulation
OCEAN WATERS MOVE in a global circulation system, transporting huge amounts of heat around the globe. The thermal capacity of the ocean is very large compared to that of the atmosphere, and through its circulation patterns, it can absorb heat in one region and return it to the atmosphere (often decades or centuries later) at an entirely different place. Ocean circulation is, thus, a key determinant of regional and global climate. Ignoring tidal forces, the long-term mean oceanic circulation is driven by three external influences: wind stress, heating and cooling, and evaporation and precipitation; all of which, in turn, are ultimately driven by solar radiation. Ocean currents are either wind-driven (surface currents) or due to changes in the density of sea water (deep currents). The circulation of the atmosphere is, in turn, influenced by the distribution of oceanic properties, such as sea-surface temperature and the distribution of sea ice. In ...