The ocean is restless. It never stops moving. The famous American oceanographer Matthew Maury described the Gulf Stream ocean current as “a river in the sea,” but all the world’s rivers combined transport only a tiny fraction of the volume of ocean currents. The great ocean currents regulate the climate by transporting heat around the globe, taking warm water from the equator toward the poles and cool water from the poles toward the equator. Water evaporates from the ocean, falls as rain on the land, and returns to the sea. In this chapter we will learn about the Coriolis effect, one of the most important concepts in oceanography and its consequences for wind and ocean currents. Eddies shed from the ocean currents can reach to great depths and cause deep ocean “storms.” We will answer important questions like: What would happen if ice did not float? Why don’t icebergs drift in the same direction as the wind blows? What is storm “wave base”? What does a tsunami wave look like in the middle of the ocean? Why are there new beaches forming on the Arctic coast? What has caused Antarctic sea ice “factories” to close down?
KeywordsHydrological cycle Salinity Ooid Limiting nutrient Matthew Fontaine Maury Flying cloud Sverdrup Gulf Stream Circumpolar Current East Australia Current Rhodolith Hadley cells Coriolis effect Benthic storm Ekman transport Fetch Significant wave height Storm wave base Tsunami Great ocean conveyor Mertz glacier Aurora Australis Bottom water Polynya
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