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Homework Sheet #9 Name Ester Yang

The Shallow Ocean


Note: The first 7 questions are from our textbook.

1. What effect does the surface wind pattern have on the [surface] circulation of the oceans?
Surface winds create wind drift currents on contact with the ocean surface. These currents turn right in the northern
hemisphere and left in the southern hemisphere (Coriolis Effect).

2. Why do the [surface] ocean currents not move in exactly the same direction as the wind?
Coriolis Effect and Elkman transport.

3. What is the Ekman spiral? Explain why the Ekman spiral occurs.
The Ekman spiral refers to the rotational flow of currents as the current moves away from a horizontal boundary it is
near. The Coriolis effect causes this movement.

4. What is upwelling? Where does upwelling occur?


Upwelling occurs when dense, cooler (usually nutrient-rich) water is moved towards the ocean surface by winds
replacing the warmer, nutrient-depleted surface water.

5. What is meant by geostrophic current?


Geostrophic current is oceanic flow where pressure gradient force is balanced by Coriolis force.

6. Explain the different characteristics of western and eastern boundary currents.


Western boundary currents are warm, deep, narrow, and fast-flowing currents which can be found on the eastern
sides of oceanic basins.
Eastern boundary currents are relatively shallow, broad, and slow-flowing currents which can be found on the west
side of oceanic basis.

7. What is a gyre?
A gyre is a large system of rotating ocean currents. There are five on earth. They are set in motion by the
tradewinds and westerlies and curve due to the Coriolis effect and Ekman transport.
A gyre is a large circular circulation pattern in the ocean. Discounting the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, there are
five on earth, with the two northern hemisphere ones rotating clockwise and the three southern hemisphere ones
rotating counterclockwise. They are set in motion by the tradewinds and westerlies, and curve due to the Coriolis
effect and Ekman transport.

8. What is an eddy current or “ring?”


A ring is a type of mesoscale eddy that forms when Gulf Stream meanders break off from the Gulf Stream creating
independent circulatory systems.

9. Consider an eddy current that is 150 km in diameter and 200 m deep. When it was cut loose from the Gulf
Stream it was 68°F (or 20°C). Ten months later the ring had cooled to the ambient temperature of the surrounding
sea, 50°F (or 10°C). How much heat, in joules, was dissipated? Suppose this energy were the output of a 1000
megawatt (109 J/s) power plant. How long could the plant provide this power (answer should be in years)? (Recall
that the specific heat of water is 4.2x103 J/°C/kg and that the ocean is only 96.5% H2O.) (You may disregard the fact
that the ocean is only 96.5% water and 3.5% salts—it doesn’t make a big difference in the answer.)

Units:
1 m3 = 1000 kg H2O
1000 cm3 = 1 liter = 1 kg H2O
4.2E3 J/kgo pure water x 965 for sea water (we’ll ignore the specific heat of the salts) = 4.053E3 J/kgo
3.15E7 s/year

Whatever volume:
V = πR2h

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V = 3.14 x (75,000 m)2 x 200 m
V = 3.53E12 m3 H2O in eddy

Mass of water:
M = 3.53E12 m3 x 1000 kg/m3
M = 3.53E15 kg

Joules to change that mass:


∑ joules for 1oC = 3.53E15 kg x 4.053E3 J/kg
∑ joules for 1oC = 1.43E19 J

Times 10oC
∑ joules for 10oC = 1.43E19 J x 10
∑ joules for 10oC = 1.43E20 J

Seconds power plant:


∑ seconds = 1.43E20 J/ 1E0 J/s
∑ seconds = 1.43E11 s

Years power plant needs to work:


∑ years = 1.43E11 s/ 3.15E7 s/yr
∑ years = 4540 years

10. In only a few places does the ocean drop off to the abyss right next to the shore. What is the name of the
location where the ocean remains fairly shallow before it drops to the abyss?
Continental shelf.

11. What is the Sargasso Sea? (There is a nice, short “blurb” about this on page 88 of our textbook, by the way.)
The Sargasso Sea is a region in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean surrounded by ocean currents. It’s not
really a sea, it is more like a huge whirpool like center of circular currents. The Sargasso Sea is filled with rotting
seaweed.

12. What causes the warmest parts of the oceans to oscillate in latitude during a year?
Relative to the earth, the sun’s position in the sky travels from 23.5oN to 23.5oS and back again during a year. This
changing in the angel of the sun cuases the locations that receive the greatest insolation to oscillate too. The
warmest part of the seas never get more than about 10o above or below the equator.

13. The place on earth that has the most consistently high winds not surprisingly has the most consistently high
waves. Where is that place?
Antarctic Circumpolar Current

14. Sea surface temperatures can be measured by instruments aboard satellites. Why then, do we not use these
direct images when measuring temperature trends?
To determine trends, you need to compare data from many, many years. Satellites were launched in the 1900s,
that’s not enough time.

15. People knew very little about the deep oceans before 70 years ago. Think of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues
Under the Sea, written in 1870, as capturing nearly everything humanity knew about the deep oceans. We had
only one way to determine depth back then. Two additional, and far more accurate, methods were developed in
the 20th century. What are these three methods of determining ocean depth?
Weight and line, sonar, satellites

16. In terms of waves, what defines the difference between deep water and shallow water?
Waves are more apparent in shallow water because the sea bottom is closer for the water to break upon.
Wavelength divided by 2.

17. Why can one not "surf" a wave in the open ocean, while it is possible near the shore?

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Surfing waves don’t exist in open ocean because they don’t form until waves hit the ocean bottom near shore.

18. Describe the difference between an undertow and a rip current. Use labeled sketches in your answer.
Undertows are the rushes of water returning to the sea after coming ashore. Rip currents are strong channels of
water moving seaward from the shore.

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sand bar

Undertow, rarely dangerous shore

Rip current, usually dangerous

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19. What is a tsunami?
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of water.

20. Explain the difference between a neap tide and a spring tide.
Neap tide
Moon

Sun Earth

Spring tide

Sun Earth Moon

21. Why is the light limit of the ocean a different depth than the photosynthesis limit?
Light can only penetrate the ocean with enough intensity for photosynthesis in the first 80 meters from the surface.
Light can penetrate deeper if the water is still enough, up to 200 meters.

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