The earth's surface is covered by two-thirds of the global oceans. This huge territory represents an enormous amount of scientific information. Nearly all disciplines of science are represented in the ocean sciences: biology, chemistry, geology and physics. Nowadays the water cover is greatly investigated.
There is even a special Ocean Climate Laboratory (OCL) which primary objectives are to:
- Improve the quality of the NODC's (the National Oceanographic Data Centre) oceanographic data archives by using the data to perform scientific analyses;
- Develop improved ocean climates for annual, seasonal, and monthly compositing periods;
- Investigate inter-annual-to-decadal ocean climate variability using historical oceanographic data;
- Build scientifically, quality-controlled global oceanographic databases;
- Facilitate international exchange of oceanographic data.
Being a major part of the whole earth territory oceans and seas influence greatly on the dry land as well as its climate. Today we talk about the oceanic climate and its peculiarities.Oceanic or maritime climate is a type of climate which is strongly influenced by closeness to the ocean. Its annual temperature range tends to be small while a precipitation is high.
An oceanic climate is typically found along the west coasts at the middle latitudes of all the world's continents. The representatives of this climate are Coastal Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, southern Alaska, Southern Chile, interior South Africa, southeast Australia, New Zealand and northwest Europe.
There are several characteristics of this climate:
- Mild winters, mild summers. Oceanic climate experiences generally cool summers and mild winters, with a much smaller annual temperature range. In contrast to soil and rock water has a much higher heat capacity. Seawater takes a long time to warm up in summer, but once heated it retains its warmth long after the surrounding land has cooled down. Such oceanic heat supply helps to moderate the climate.
- Low annual temperature range. Oceanic climate is characterized by a lower annual range of temperatures comparing with the other climatic areas. This means that oceanic climate has an even precipitation distribution at all times of the year.
- Heavy cloud cover; high humidity. Maritime climate generally are fairly humid, accompanied by heavy cloud cover and considerable amounts of precipitation, since the main moisture source is not very far away.
The Oceanic climate biome is mostly represented with the temperate rain forests. A temperate rain forest is defined as any forest in the mid-latitudes that receives more than 50-60 inches of rainfall a year. Trees in this forest grow to immense sizes and live incredibly long lives. The biomass of these forests, estimated to be between 500 and 2000 metric tons per hectare, exceeds that of the tropical rain forests.
The topmost layer of the temperate rain forest on the western edge of North America is dominated by four kinds of tall coniferous trees. These are: the Douglas-fir, the Sitka spruce, the western red cedar and the western hemlock. When these trees are full grown, they are between 130 to 280 feet tall.
Small shade-loving trees, such as dogwoods and vine maples, form the under story level. Beneath the trees, shrubs such as wild currants, thimbleberries, and huckleberries grow in the filtered sunlight. Sword ferns, salal, and organic grape plants also thrive here.
Occupying the great territory we can observe certain climatic abnormality that becomes apparent in the overall temperature characteristics that vary among oceanic climates. The lowest latitudes areas are considered to be subtropical from a thermal point of view. Despite this fact, in the lowest latitudes areas more commonly a mesothermal regime prevails, with cool, but not cold, winters.As for poleward regions, they are also can be considered to be a zone of subpolar oceanic climate, with a summer growing season of less than four months. The examples of this climate include much of coastal Iceland in the Northern Hemisphere and extreme southern Chile in the Southern Hemisphere.
As was mentioned above, oceanic climate is characterized with high humidity with one significant exception: Patagonia - the only major example of a dry oceanic climate.