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Marotzke J Ocean models in climate problems.

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Michaud R, Lin CA Monthly summaries of merchant ship surface marine observations and implications for climate variability studies. Climate Dynamics 7, 45— Climate Dynamics 5, — Oberhuber JM An atlas based on the C0ADS data set: the budgets of heat, buoyancy and turbulent kinetic energy at the surface of the global ocean. American Institute of Physics, New York. J Phys Oceanogr 17, — Reed RK On estimating insolation over the ocean. J Phys Oceanogr 7, — II: Effects of air-sea thermal coupling. J Phys Oceanogr 13, — J Phys Oceanogr 21, — J Phys Oceanogr 22, — Geophys Res Lett 20, — Climate Dynamics 7, 1— J Mar Res 50, 99— J Phys Oceanogr 23, — J Mar Res in press.

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ENW EndNote. Changes in the energy balance between the oceans and atmosphere play an important role in the planet's climate change. The circulation of the oceans is affected by variations in atmospheric circulation. Surface currents are driven by the force of the wind pushing on the ocean surface.


The frictional drag of the wind on the surface layer of the ocean creates currents. The wind also mixes surface waters creating what is called the mixed layer, where there is little vertical temperature change.

AOIP: Atmosphere-Ocean-Ice Interactions in Polar and sub-polar regions

Below the mixed layer lies the thermocline, a narrow zone of rapidly dropping temperature. Just as atmospheric chemistry fluctuates, so does ocean chemistry, though not in the same ways. While much is known about ocean circulation and its coupling to at- mospheric currents and pressure, less is certain about its ability to store additional carbon or about how much heat it will store in response to rising surface temperatures. The ocean is an immense reservoir of heat, holding the heat it absorbs from solar radiation longer than the land does.

As the ocean water moves through its grand circulation scheme, heat is transferred vertically from the surface waters to the deep ocean and back, and horizontally from high latitude to Tow latitude and from longitude to longitude.

As heat is released by the ocean in a region remote from where it was absorbed, it interacts with the overlying atmo- sphere, moderating the daily and seasonal cycles and tempera- ture on the earth's surface areas. Thus the ocean helps to shape.

Kevin Trenberth, of the National Center for At- mospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and colleagues have shown that the hot and dry conditions in central North America in the summer of could have been triggered by unusual distributions in sea surface temperatures that occurred in the aftermath of the E! A critical unanswered question is, what is the ocean's role in storing the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by hu- man activity? Preliminary calculations suggest that about half of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by fossil fuel combustion and deforestation remains there.

At least part of the carbon dioxide has been absorbed by the ocean, which holds 60 times as much carbon as there is In all of the atmospheric carbon dioxide. The ocean's carbon largely resides at the bottom of the sea and has accumulated over billions of years. Photosynthetic plankton in the ocean's surface waters are consumed by other organisms; some of that carbon is returned to the atmosphere through respiration, and part goes into storage in the deep-sea sediment as detritus and shells or skeletons of marine organ- isms.

The free-fall of organisms from the surface to the ocean floor and the subsequent release of carbon as deep ocean waters are slowly recycled up to the surface waters have a profound effect on the way carbon is apportioned throughout the earth system. The movement of carbon through the earth system would be quite different if noting lived in the ocean.


Atmosphere-ocean interaction » Environmental Fluid Dynamics

If one could con- sider the influence of physics and chemistry alone, carbon diox- ide in the surface waters would be evenly distributed. In fact, however, there is a distinct physical and chemical difference be- tween the capacities of waters at different latitudes to sequester. The food webs of organisms deter- mine to what degree the carbon that is fixed photosynthetically will go back into the water and to what degree it will go into the creep ocean. In turn, the nature of the food web influences the partitioning of carbon dioxide.

What is it, he asks, that determines the capacity of the ocean today to absorb carbon?


Why is it not half that amount, or twice that amount? How might the capacity of the ocean to absorb the car- bon dioxide that is being released from fossil fuel combustion change in the future? What are the implications of this for the ocean carbon cycle?

What would happen if the surface ocean conditions were to change? Scientists have not yet answered these questions, but the record of the past provides some valuable clues in addressing them. The distinct correlation between the concentration of car- bon dioxide and the surface temperature of the planet during the glacial cycles over the last , years must have involvecl the ocean. Researchers believe the carbon cannot move through any other reservoirs in the earth system efficiently enough over those time periods to account for these changes in carbon diox- ide concentrations.

While there are many questions in urgent need of answers, in the last decade the ocean science community has developed new and powerful techniques for addressing them.

Atmosphere-ocean interaction

Scientists have increased their understancting of the coupled nature of the atmosphere-ocean system, and of ocean physics and bio- geochemistry. The developments in remote sensing in the last decade have. Until fairly recently, oceanographers based their studies of ocean processes on samples of ocean water gath- ered while aboard ships an extremely slow, labor-intensive process. Ships move at roughly 10 knots, but weather patterns can move across the surface of the earth much faster.

Indeed, much of the data collected from the ocean surface is biased be- cause of problems of space and time scale. Now, satellites have made it possible to measure not only the ocean surface tem- perature but also how the surface currents are moving. Surface winds can be tracked with instruments aboard satellites, anct the height of the ocean surface can be precisely gauged. These measurements reveal valuable information about ocean circu- lation. And, finally, the color of the ocean can be assessed to approximate the concentration of plankton pigment, and thus biological activity, at the ocean's surface.

LAND Nothing seems more solid than a tract of land, and yet the plants and animals, the soil, and the life-supporting nutrients provided by that land make up a single interdependent unit an ecosystem that is dynamic on time scales ranging from days to seasons to years to millennia. Over days and seasons, the earth's plant communities absorb and release carbon in a breath-like rhythm. Over years and decades, ecosystems respond to the natural patterns of plant succession and occasional events such as E1 Nino or drought. At the far extreme, ecosystems on land change on time scales of tens to thousands of years according to the earth's glacial cycles.

Ecosystems function metabolically, producing and consum- ing many of the gases that drive the earth system. Plants capture energy from the sun and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in their growth process.

Climate Change Ocean Atmosphere Interactions

Terrestrial plants take up more than billion metric tons of carbon each year and return approx- imately as much to the atmosphere as plants die and decay. This cyclical exchange involves 20 times the amount of carbon released through combustion of fossil fuels. Microorganisms in. As is the case with carbon, the amount of nitrous oxide cycled through terrestrial ecosystems is much greater than the amount released through combustion of fossil fuels.

Of the three main components of the earth system-atmo- sphere, oceans, and land the land is the most heterogeneous. The earth's surface is a mosaic of different types of ecosys- tems ranging from arid desert to tropical forests to tundra to the more familiar temperate forests. Each harbors distinct plant and animal communities, and each uniquely contributes to the func- tioning of the earth system.

Tropical rain forests, for example, with abundant moisture and high temperatures that facilitate ex- ceedingly rapid plant growth and decomposition of dead plant material, cover about 7 percent of the earth's land area but con- tribute a much larger share of the worId's annual turnover of biomass. At the other end of the spectrum, the cold tempera- tures In the tundra inhibit decomposition of plant material, and so the carbon in the biomass is stored there for long periods.

Though change is a quality intrinsic to all ecosystems, changes to the plant cover from agriculture, clearing of forests, and other human activities are not just another sort of change imposed on the background of natural variation. Rather, they profoundly alter the amount of light reflected back to the atmo- sphere from the land, the roughness of the land surface, which influences wind patterns, and the cycling of materials through the earth system.

For studies of the short-term dynamics of terrestrial ecosys- tems, biologists, like oceanographers and climatologists, have benefited from advances in satellite technology. One of the most important short-term dynamic effects is the seasonal variation in vegetation, which can be seen from space and recorded in snapshots.

Some of these images show where plants are active at any given time and are extremely useful because the informa- tion can be accumulated daily, summed annually, and compared with measurements of the atmosphere. Peter Vitousek, a biolo- gist at Stanford University, explains that results are particularly. The ice age is of particular interest in light of projections for the planet in the next century.

Even during glaciation and the retreat of glaciers, which occurred much more slowly than the rate of warming projected for the planet in the next years, the rate of change was so fast that only some species were able to adapt to the changes. Associations between species were severed. Eventually those species that survived recolonized into new communities, often in unfamiliar areas and in different combinations of members. As a result, many ecosystems were composed of wholly different combinations of species than are found anywhere today.

During the ice age, the major vegetation zones shifted thou- sands of kilometers from their current positions, and so the frac- tion of the earth's surface covered by specific types of vegetation also was altered substantially. What is in store for ecosystems in the future, and how these changes will feed back to other parts of the earth system, are open questions.

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Rain, a lake, dew, waves crashing along a shoreline, snow, fog, a freshwater spring sur- rounded by desert palms-water in these and many other fa- miliar forms means that life can be sustained. Nowhere else in the solar system does water currently exist in its liquid state; nowhere else has life taken root and flourished. Here water connects the various components of the biosphere, driving pro- cesses on land, sea, and air.

Like the other components of the earth system, water is. It resides temporarily in oceans, groundwater, lakes, ice, and clouds and flows between them through rainfall and snow, evaporation from surfaces and through plants, and runoff across the earth's surface. Nearly ev- ery process in the earth system requires it.