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The oceans
The oceans

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  • The effect of the wind stress on the surface of the ocean is passed down through the water column through eddy viscosity and energy is transferred into the water column.
  • The net result of the Ekman spiral in the Northern Hemisphere is to cause a slow transport of moving water to the right of the wind. In the Southern Hemisphere it causes a slow transport of moving water to the left.
  • Different climates produce water masses of different densities. Sea ice generation in the polar regions creates very dense water masses.
  • The processes that drive a circulation pattern throughout the Atlantic Ocean also operate in the other oceans of the world. The differing densities of water have set up a global circulation pattern which is drawn schematically as an 'oceanic conveyor belt' that redistributes large amounts of heat around the Earth.