Waves and Weather

Hold On To Your Hats This Will Be A Bumpy Ride!

We are about to head into the wave and float out into the Ocean!


SEAWATER IS CONSTANTLY moving. At the surface, wind-driven waves can be 50 ft (15 m) from crest to trough. Major surface currents are driven by the prevailing winds. Both surface and deep-water currents help modify the world's climate by taking cold water from the polar regions toward the tropics, and vice versa. Shifts in this flow affect life in the ocean. In an EI Nino climatic event warm water starts to flow down the west of South America, which stops nutrient-rich, cold water rising up, causing plankton growth to slow and fisheries to fail. Heat from oceans creates air movement from swirling hurricanes to daytime breezes on-shore, or nighttime ones off-shore. Breezes occur as the ocean heats up more slowly than the land in the day. Cool air above the water blows in, replacing warm air above the land, and the reverse at night.

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DOWN THE SPOUT

Water spouts (spinning sprays sucked up from the surface) begin when whirling air drops down from a storm cloud to the ocean.

RIVERS OF THE SEA

Currents are huge masses of water moving through the oceans. The course currents follow is not precisely the same as the trade winds and westerlies, because currents are deflected by land and the Coriolis Force produced by the Earth's rotation. The latter causes currents to shift to the right in the northem hemisphere and to the left in the southern. There are also currents that flow due to differences in density of seawater.

HEART OF A HURRICANE

Hurricanes (also known as typhoons) are the most destructive forces created by the oceans. They develop in the tropics where warm, moist air rises up from the ocean's surface creating storm clouds. As more air spirals upward, energy is released, fueling stronger winds that whirl around the eye (a calm area of extreme low pressure). Hurricanes move onto land and cause terrible devastation. Away from the ocean, hurricanes die out.

BATTERED SHORE

The highest waves (from trough to crest) are produced by high winds blowing across the ocean for long distances uninterrupted by land. For example, the southwest coast of England gets some of the biggest storm waves because thev come right across 'the Atlantic Ocean. Waves crashing against the shore weaken cliffs, and cause some to fall into the sea.

MONITORING BUOY

This buoy is moored to the seabed and floats on the ocean’s surface. Its instruments measure the winds and temperatures of the air and sea surface. Readings collected by these instruments are stored on board the buoy in computer systems. Its data is sent via satellite to a land based station. The buoy’s location can be found by the signals it sends back to the satellite.Close to, its radio signals and flashing lights can be identified by ships.

MAKING WAVES

Waves are formed due to the action of wind on the surface of the water, which causes friction. While the wave itself moves forward, pushed in the same direction as the wind, the water making up the wave hardly shifts at all. It follows a circular path, shown by the t10ating bottle (above). When the wind is stronger, the waves may spill over at the top and break into frothy spray. Waves, driven by winds toward a beach, break when the water becomes too shallow.