|How does the sun produce wind and surface ocean
currents on earth?|
|Question Date: 2016-09-20|
The sun plays a vital role in maintaining our
climate here on earth. The sun releases large
amounts of energy in the form of solar
radiation towards earth. Some of this energy
is reflected back towards space, while some in
absorbed by Earth. Our oceans absorb much
of this solar radiation; water molecules in the
ocean become heated and begin a process called
evaporation, in which water turns to vapor
within the air. This process increases the
temperature of the surrounding air that is
then carried by trade winds great distances.
These surface winds play a large role in
driving ocean currents. The ocean currents act
as a sort of conveyor belt; they carry warm
water and precipitation from the equator towards
the poles of earth.
Cold water is carried in the opposite direction
from the poles to the equator. This circulation
pattern is what ultimately regulates global
climate. In summary, solar radiation absorbed
by the oceans create warm temperatures carried by
wind around the globe and also create warm ocean
temperatures that are dispersed around the globe
via the ocean conveyor belt.
The sun creates wind by heating the ground,
which heats the air above it, which then causes
the heated air to rise. The rising heated air
creates a vacuum underneath it as it rises, so
that air from the surrounding side rushes in to
fill the hole - this is wind. Then, when
the warm air cools off at high altitude, it sinks
or is carried down along with rain by gravity,
pushing the air down at the ground out of the way,
creating more wind.
The sun does not cause ocean currents. This is
because the sun only heats the surface of the sea,
which is already at the top of the ocean and so
can't rise any further. Ocean currents are
instead mainly caused by the fact that the Earth
is rotating (by the way, much of the wind is
caused by the Earth's rotation as well).
There are 2 forces that cause wind and
1 --the sun. The sun sends rays of light
and heat to the earth. The heat contributes to the
currents, by convection. When we say that "heat
rises", we are talking about convection.
Convection is the movement of hot gas/liquid
up, while the cool gas/liquid down (think of why
the top level of a house is always much warmer
than in the basement). The heat from the sun
causes convection of the oceans and in the air
systems. Adding heat forces the ocean and air
masses to mix, and circulate.
2-- the earth rotates. The earth orbits
the sun, but also each day is marked by one
rotation of the earth. These movements are very
slow so we don't notice, but the earth rotating
actually produces a really strong force, which we
call "the Coriolis force". This also affects the
ocean and air currents.
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