chapter
Circulation Patterns: Atmospheric and Oceanic
ByMarcia Glaze Wyatt
Pages 13

Fueled by the Sun, intrinsic dynamics of Earth systems drive global climate. Multiple interactions among climate-system components—ocean, atmosphere, land, and ice—are influenced by geography. They are further complicated by external forcings, both natural and anthropogenic. Dissimilar response times of system components to perturbations, combined with non-linear reactions among the components, have the potential to generate oscillatory signals on a variety of timescales. Positive and negative feedbacks further complicate these manifold interactions. Complex interplay among these various processes results in the redistribution of planetary heat, basically from where it is plentiful to where it is not. Through process-related changes in wind and precipitation regimes; atmospheric chemistry; the biosphere; inventories of clouds, sea ice, snow cover, and the like, Earth’s radiative energy balance—the difference between incoming and outgoing energy—is modulated. These climate-driving dynamics can be distilled into a global collection of individual oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns. In the short term, these patterns manipulate local and remote weather. Cumulatively and collectively, in the long term, they influence climate, and their combined effect on global surface temperature is complex.