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Global Warming and the Future of the Earth 2007

Global Warming and the Future of the Earth 2007

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Published by j2ch5en
The book begins with the important distinction between weather and climate, followed by data showing how carbon dioxide has increased and the incontrovertible evidence that it is caused
by burning fossil fuels (i.e., coal, oil, and natural gas).
The book begins with the important distinction between weather and climate, followed by data showing how carbon dioxide has increased and the incontrovertible evidence that it is caused
by burning fossil fuels (i.e., coal, oil, and natural gas).

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Published by: j2ch5en on Nov 20, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/16/2011

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In part, the ocean surface is driven by the winds.2

For example, look at a picture of the fow pattern
in the north Atlantic Ocean (Figure 1.3). The trade winds blow the ocean surface water toward
the west at low latitudes, whereas the westerlies blow the water toward the east at midlatitudes. At
the same time, the rotation of the Earth forces the fow to “pile up” along the western boundary of
the ocean (the eastern boundary of the continent), producing the Gulf Stream. Easterly (toward
the west) winds at higher latitudes blow water to the west and down the east coast in the form of
the Labrador Current. Similar wind-driven circulation patterns occur in other ocean basins. A very
simplifed pattern is shown in Figure 1.3. Note that the pattern is similar in the two hemispheres.
The atmospheric winds generally blow the surface ocean currents toward the west near the equator
and toward the east at midlatitudes. On the western sides of oceans (the eastern sides of continents),
there are currents similar to the Gulf Stream: the Brazil Current off the east coast of South America,
the Kuroshio Current off the east coast of Asia, the Mozambique Current off the east coast of Af-
rica. There are large regions of slowly clockwise rotating water masses (called gyres) in the northern
Atlantic and Pacifc and large counterclockwise rotating water masses in the southern Atlantic and
Pacifc and in the Indian Ocean. In the southern hemisphere, where there is a clear ocean path that
encircles the globe (no continental boundaries to stop the fow), the southern hemisphere wester-
lies create the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which, unimpeded by land masses, fows all the way
around the globe, and the easterly winds below the southern hemisphere polar cell create the East
Wind Drift near Antarctica, which also fows around the globe.

10 GLoBAL WARmInG And THE FuTuRE oF THE EARTH

FIGuRE 1.3: Flows in the ocean surface layer. The wind blows the surface water of the oceans toward
the east under the Hadley cell and toward the west under the Ferrel cell. This leads to large rotating regions
in the open ocean both north and south of the equator. Because of the rotation of the Earth, water piles
up on the western sides of the oceans and fows toward the equator in rather narrow currents. The Gulf
Stream off the coast of the United States is a familiar example, but similar currents exist in other oceans.

But both the ocean and atmospheric fows are much more complicated than those that I have

described so far.

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