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Introduction to Physical Oceanography
Homework Set 3
Due 17 September 2008

Late homework will cost 15 points per week or part of a week it is late.


  1. Wind Information. Sebastian Junger, in his book The Perfect Storm, described a storm in October 1991 that had Force 12 winds south of the Grand Banks in the Atlantic and gales that extended as far south as Florida. A buoy near Sable Island recorded wave heights that exceeded 30 m. You are part of a team developing a new storm-wave forecasting model. The first version of the model has been developed, and the team decides to see if it can forecast the waves observed in the perfect storm. You are asked to provide winds necessary to drive the model. It requires winds every six hours on a one or two degree grid for the Atlantic Ocean north of 30° S.
    1. Please list three types of data sets what could be used.
    2. Which type of data set will you use to get the wind information you need for October 1991?
    3. Why did you pick this source of wind information?

  2. Heat Fluxes. You work for an engineering consulting company that plans to begin producing real-time maps of environmental conditions in the Gulf of Mexico. You are asked to find an accurate, reliable source of latent-heat fluxes needed by the team.
    1. What data set will you choose for your team?
    2. Why did you choose this source of latent heat flux information?

  3. Insolation. You have heard that the temperature of the sea is due mostly to solar heating: the greater the heating the greater the temperature. Is the statement true? Compare maps of sea-surface temperature, say figure 6.2, with maps of insolation and other terms of the heat budget. What seems to determine regional variability of sea-surface temperature? Please be prepared to be specific, contrasting differences in heating and temperature in specific regions.

  4. Rain Maps: Go to Remote Sensing Systems web site for oceanic data. Click on TMI Data box at the top of the page to go to microwave radiometer data from NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. Click on Pre-rendered Data Images: Monthly to access plots.
    1. Click on TMI Data:// Description box near the top of the page to obtain a description of the data set.
      1. What is the source of the data?
      2. Can the instrument observe sea-surface temperature in cloudy areas?
    2. Use the pull down menus above the plots to select December 1997, then Click Update Display to show the plots.
      1. Click on the image for sea-surface temperature and plot the map.
      2. Do the same for rain rate and plot that map.
    3. Click Update Display to show data for December 1998.
      1. Click on the image for sea-surface temperature and plot the map.
      2. Do the same for rain rate and plot that map.
    4. How do the maps for December 1997 differ from the maps for December 1998?
      1. Is rain rate related to sea-surface temperature? Please be specific, not vague.
      2. How are they related?

  5. Rain Maps: Go to the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction for the NOAA NCEP CPC Merged_Analysis monthly v0203 ver1 prcp_est: CMAP Estimated Precipitation Data set.
    1. Click on the small color plot at the top right of the page to bring up a page with a color plot with land boundaries.
    2. Change the time at the top of the page to dec 1997, wait for the new plot, then click Plain Page box at the bottom to produce a simple color plot of rainfall for December 1997.
    3. Print the rain plot.
    4. How does it differ from the plot for rain in December 1997 that you plotted earlier. Please be specific. Do not say they have a different color scale, this is not important. Are rain rates the same? If not, how much do they differ? Where do they differ?
    5. Go to the Google web page to learn about the data.
      1. What is the source of data?
      2. Is it independent of the rain plot you produced for question 4?

Revised on: 27 August, 2008

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