Wind And Ocean Currents

Hiba Arshad


4 Major Components

Atmosphere: The layer of gases surrounding the Earth

  • Reflects some of Sun’s energy, absorbs and radiates some, and transmits some to Earth’s surface

Hydrosphere: Liquid water in lakes, oceans, water vapour in the atmosphere and ice in glaciers and at the North and South poles

  • Liquid Water absorbs energy from warm air and the Sun and releases energy back

  • The Water Cycle: The continuous process by which water is circulated through the earth and atmosphere through evaporation, condensation, precipitation and transpiration of plants and animals

    • Energy absorbed when water evaporates from oceans and lakes - cools its surroundings

    • Energy is given off when water vapour condenses into clouds in the atmosphere - warms its surroundings

Lithosphere: Earth’s rock crust and land surface

  • Land Formations and Climate Zones:

    • As clouds move up mountains, they lose their moisture as rainfall on the windward side (side facing ocean). The leeward side receives little rain. This is called the rain shadow effect.

  • Altitudes and Climate Zones:

    • As air from lower altitudes rises to higher altitudes, it cools and expands. This is why the air on higher altitudes, such as mountains, is colder.

Living Things:

  • Through various processes, plants, animals and other living things, change the relative amount of gases in the atmosphere

  • Through photosynthesis plants take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, and vice versa through cellular respiration (take in oxygen, emit carbon dioxide).

  • If the amount of carbon dioxide or methane in the atmosphere changes, it affects the amount of radiation that can be absorbed by the atmosphere
How does the climate system work?


  • Liquid water absorbs energy from the Sun and warm air and releases it back

    • Also reflects some of the energy

  • Water vapour and clouds in the atmosphere reflect, absorb, and transmit energy from the Sun

The hydrosphere and atmosphere are referred to as heat sinks

  • Heat sinks: any environment that absorbs heat

  • When the ocean is warmer than the air, the air absorbs the heat from the ocean (and vice versa!)

  • Water absorbs and stores more thermal energy than land.

  • Land heats up and cools down faster than water

Energy transfer in atmosphere and hydrosphere


  • Water absorbs more thermal energy than land and heats up and cools down more slowly than land making region cooler in summer and warmer in fall

  • Ice reflects off high amount of radiant energy due to high albedo. These places are usually colder

  • ⅔ of earths natural greenhouse effect is by water vapour in the atmosphere

  • Greenhouse gas: any gas in the atmosphere that absorbs lower-energy infrared radiation

    • As earths temp increases, more becomes water vapour

    • Since water vapour traps energy, more water vapour makes earth warmer - called feedback loop

  • Albedo: a measure of how much the suns radiation is reflected by a surface

  • Albedo effect: the positive feedback loop in which an increase in earths temperature causes ice to melt, so more radiation is absorbed by the earths surface, leading to further increases in temperature

  • Feedback loop: the process in which the result acts to influence the original process (Negative --> decreases, Positive --> Increases)

  • Ice/snow albedo 85%, water 8%, forest 10%


Ocean Currents: movement of water in the ocean, driven by circulation of winds (ex. Winds are the main cause of the Gulf stream that transports warm water from tropics up to eastern coast of North America and across to Europe
  • When ocean currents are cool, they cool the air above them, when they are warm, they warm the air above them
  • As water travels toward the poles, it gets colder and more salty as surface water evaporates and forms sea ice (sea ice is mostly fresh water because it rejects the salt when it freezes)
  • Low temp and saltiness of the water both make the water at the poles more dense. As a result, water sinks to the ocean floor
  • Warmer surface water from the equator then flows toward the poles to take its place

Try this quiz to see how you have learned!


Sci Perspectives 10 - Unit D. (n.d.). Retrieved April 03, 2016, from