The Air-Sea Connection

How are the ocean and the atmosphere connected?

How the Atmosphere Affects the Ocean

The atmosphere affects the oceans and is in turn influenced by them. The action of winds blowing over the ocean surface creates waves and the great current systems of the oceans. When winds are strong enough to produce spray and whitecaps, tiny droplets of ocean water are thrown up into the atmosphere where some evaporate, leaving microscopic grains of salt buoyed by the turbulence of the air.

How the Ocean Affects the Atmosphere

Because of their ability to store huge quantities of heat and moisture, the oceans alter atmospheric conditions and the weather. For example, tropical storms form over warm ocean waters, which supply the energy for hurricanes and typhoons to grow and move, often over land. The winter storms that bring precipitation to the western U.S. originate over the North Pacific. Locally, upwelling in many coastal regions, such as California, provide a cool contrast in air temperature over the ocean and land that is conducive to frequent summer fog.