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
Ocean Component of Models
CLIMATE MODELS ARE computer simulations representing the Earth in layers and boxes. These models use complex mathematical equations to determine future climate possibilities based on parameters of baseline conditions and changing variables, like increased greenhouse gases, and rising temperature. The equations in the separate cells are used to mathematically calculate numerous conditions including the flow of heat, moisture, sunlight, wind, and the condition of the adjacent cells. Early climate models provided uncertain projections because the equations failed to include the dynamics of the little-understood ocean circulation. Two-thirds of the Earth is covered by ocean, which acts as a heat reservoir and a heat transport system; changes in the ocean can cause widespread changes in climate. Every few years, a warming of the eastern Pacific near the equator creates El Nino conditions, altering rainfall and temperature patterns. The ocean plays a central role in climate variability, modifying the flux of heat ...