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The Atmosphere and Ocean: A Physical Introduction, 3rd Edition

The Atmosphere and Ocean: A Physical Introduction, 3rd Edition

Neil C. Wells

ISBN: 978-1-119-97984-5

Dec 2011

448 pages



The Atmosphere and Ocean is a fully revised and updated student friendly physical introduction to the atmosphere and ocean. Now in its Third Edition, the book continues to provide students with an accessible description of the atmosphere and ocean with emphasis on their physical properties and inter-dependence.

Clearly structured throughout, the book demonstrates that the atmosphere and ocean are both subject to the influence of the earth's rotation and therefore they have a common dynamical basis. The author clearly demonstrates the fundamental differences between the two environments and provides the reader with a much better understanding of the atmosphere and the ocean and an appreciation of their closest interactive relationship. There have been many developments in the field over the past ten years and this latest edition of a highly successful textbook brings together new material on the ocean-atmosphere system and climate, the observed circulation of the atmosphere and ocean and radiation in the atmosphere and ocean.

  • Fully revised and updated 3rd Edition of student friendly physical introduction to the atmosphere and ocean.
  • Now includes new chapters on observed circulation of the atmosphere and ocean, energy flows in the ocean atmosphere system, modeling the ocean and atmosphere, the ocean atmosphere system and climate.
  • Well structured and written in an authoritative yet accessible style suitable for 2nd and 3rd year students taking courses in meteorology, oceanography and related Earth Sciences or as an introduction for graduate students.
  • Emphasis placed on physical properties and inter-dependence of the ocean and climate.
  • Part of the RMetS (Royal Meteorological Society) book series, Advancing Weather and Climate Science
Series Foreword ix

Preface to the Third Edition xi

1 The Earth within the Solar System 1

1.1 The Sun and its constancy 1

1.2 Orbital variations in solar radiation 4

1.3 Radiative equilibrium temperature 8

1.4 Thermal inertia of the atmosphere 10

1.5 Albedo 14

1.6 The topography of the Earth's surface 18

2 Composition and Physical Properties of the Ocean and Atmosphere 25

2.1 Evolution of the atmosphere and ocean 25

2.2 Present-day composition of sea water 29

2.3 Introduction to gases and liquids 31

2.4 Hydrostatic equilibrium 39

2.5 Adiabatic changes and potential temperature 41

2.6 Vertical stability of the ocean and atmosphere 46

3 Radiation, Temperature and Stability 53

3.1 Vertical variation of atmospheric constituents 53

3.2 The attenuation of solar radiation 58

3.3 Absorption of planetary radiation 65

3.4 Vertical temperature profile and its relation to radiation 67

3.5 The absorption of solar radiation in the ocean 75

3.6 Diurnal and seasonal temperature cycles in the ocean 78

4 Water in the Atmosphere 83

4.1 Introduction 83

4.2 The moist atmosphere 84

4.3 Measurement and observation of water vapour 86

4.4 Stability in a moist atmosphere 88

4.5 Processes of precipitation and evaporation: The formation of clouds 94

4.6 Macroscopic processes in cloud formation 106

5 Global Budgets of Heat, Water and Salt 111

5.1 The measurement of heat budgets at the surface 111

5.2 Observations of surface heat fluxes and budgets 117

5.3 The measurement of the water budget 126

5.4 Observations of the water budget 127

5.5 The salt budget of the ocean 131

5.6 Temperature and salinity relationships in the ocean 134

5.7 Tracers in the ocean 141

6 Observations of Winds and Currents 147

6.1 Measurement of winds and currents 147

6.2 Scales of motion in the atmosphere and ocean 159

6.3 Time averaged circulation 164

6.4 Time-dependent motion 175

7 The Influence of the Earth’s Rotation on Fluid Motion 181

7.1 An introduction to the Earth’s rotation 181

7.2 Inertial motion 184

7.3 Pressure gradients and geostrophic motion 187

7.4 Vorticity and circulation 197

7.5 The atmosphere and ocean boundary layers 206

7.6 Equatorial winds and currents 210

8 Waves and Tides 219

8.1 The spectrum of surface waves 219

8.2 Wind waves and swell 223

8.3 Long waves 230

8.4 Internal waves 234

8.5 Ocean tides 237

8.6 Storm surges 244

8.7 Atmospheric waves and tides 249

9 Energy Transfer in the Ocean-Atmosphere System 253

9.1 Modes of energy in the ocean–atmosphere system 253

9.2 The kinetic energy of the atmosphere and ocean 259

9.3 Mechanisms of kinetic energy transfer 262

9.4 General circulation of the atmosphere 271

9.5 General circulation of the ocean 277

10 Mathematical Modelling of the Ocean and Atmosphere 283

10.1 Introduction 283

10.2 Scientific modelling: A simple model of the surface layer of the ocean 284

10.3 A dynamical model of the ocean surface layer 288

10.4 Numerical solutions of mathematical models 291

10.5 Numerical solutions for momentum on a rotating Earth 293

10.6 Atmospheric and climate general circulation models 295

10.7 Global ocean models 301

10.8 Observations of the ocean and atmosphere 305

11 Atmosphere-Ocean Interaction 315

11.1 Air-sea interaction: An introduction 315

11.2 Seasonal anomalies of the ocean-land-atmosphere system 322

11.3 Interannual fluctuations in the ocean-atmosphere system 326

11.4 Decadal variations in the ocean-atmosphere system 332

12 Climate Change 337

12.1 Past climate observations 337

12.2 Mechanisms of climate change 341

12.3 Current climate change 346

12.4 Understanding recent climate change 350

12.5 Predicting future climate 351

Problems 353

Glossary 369

General Reading 377

Further Reading and References 379

Figure Sources 385


A Standard International (SI) Units 391

B SI Unit Prefixes 391

Index 393

“This book is commendable for attempting such an approach to educate a new generation of scientists armed with a unifying view of the ocean and atmosphere. It is a unique book for those who seek knowledge of not only ocean
or atmosphere but also their commonality, distinction, and interaction.”  (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 1 November 2012)

""I highly recommend the comprehensive and readily understandable book The Atmosphere and Ocean: A Physical Introduction, 3rd Edition by Neil C. Wells, to any advanced undergraduate students in meteorology, climatology, oceanography, and earth sciences. The book is valuable as well as to any business leaders and public policy makers seeking an approachable book on the topic of the interdependency between the ocean and atmosphere. This book is an excellent and accessible textbook on the topic and should be given priority for anyone interested in learning and understanding the principles of the interrelationship between the planet's atmosphere and its ocean."" (Blog Business World, 26 February 2012)