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Unit 3: Oceans // Visuals

Animation(s)

Normal Pacific Ocean conditions
Normal Pacific Ocean conditions
During non-El Niño conditions trade winds blow across the Pacific Ocean from west to east. View animation

Ocean conditions that create El Niño
Ocean conditions that create El Niño
Every 4-7 years, conditions in the Pacific Ocean create El Niño, a phenomenon in which normal trade wind patterns are reversed. View animation

Oceanic carbon cycling
Oceanic carbon cycling
Atmospheric organic carbon dioxide is processed through the marine food web. It is returned to the atmosphere and to the ocean floor where it can remain for a thousand or more years. View animation

Temperature variations in the Pacific Ocean
Temperature variations in the Pacific Ocean
Winds are responsible for large temperature variations across the tropical Pacific, even though both ends of the ocean receive about the same amount of energy from sunlight. View animation

Photograph(s)

Coral reef in the Hawaiian islands
Coral reef in the Hawaiian islands
Coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. View image

Marine phytoplankton
Marine phytoplankton
Phytoplankton form the base of marine food webs. View image

Monsoon rain clouds near Nagercoil, India, August 2006
Monsoon rain clouds near Nagercoil, India, August 2006
Monsoon rains are crucial to agricultural production in India. View image

Graphic(s)

Cold water masses
Cold water masses
Water masses with different temperatures and salinities help to drive ocean circulation. View image

Ekman Spiral (current generated by a 10 meters/second wind at 35 degrees North)
Ekman Spiral (current generated by a 10 meters/second wind at 35 degrees North)
Ekman spirals contribute to ocean current patterns. View image

Global sea surface temperatures, July 1-4, 2005
Global sea surface temperatures, July 1-4, 2005
Sunlight warms Earth unevenly, so ocean temperatures vary widely with latitude. View image

Layers of the ocean
Layers of the ocean
Oceans are divided into zones that offer a wide range of conditions for life. View image

Normal and El Niño conditions
Normal and El Niño conditions
El Niño and La Niña affect weather and climate around the globe. View image

North Atlantic spring bloom, March 28, 2003 (Cape Cod to Newfoundland shown)
North Atlantic spring bloom, March 28, 2003 (Cape Cod to Newfoundland shown)
The North Atlantic spring plankton bloom starts near Bermuda and spreads north past Iceland. View image

Ocean currents
Ocean currents
Ocean currents flow in distinct patterns generated by wind, Earth's rotation, water heat content and salinity, and bottom topography. View image

Ocean trenches and the
Ocean trenches and the "Ring of Fire"
The "Ring of Fire" is one of the most volcanically and seismically active regions on Earth. View image

Sea surface salinity values
Sea surface salinity values
Small variations in sea surface salinity can affect ocean circulation and the water cycle. View image

The biological pump
The biological pump
The biological pump transfers carbon from the atmosphere to deep ocean sinks. View image

Thermohaline circulation
Thermohaline circulation
The thermohaline circulation is a global current that moves water between ocean basins and from the surface to ocean depths. View image

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