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Topic: Oceanic Heat Budget

Theme: Energy

Key Concepts


  • Three sources of heat have influence on the ocean. Only one is important.
    • Solar energy--it is about 300 w/m2
    • Geologic sources:
      • Heat generated by the radioactive decay of elements within Earth--it is about 1 micro watt/m2,
      • Heat left over from Earth's formation, and
    • Human-induced through the burning of fossil fuels--it is about 3 milliwatt/m2.
  • Solar energy is by far the most important because it is responsible for 100,000 times the contribution of the remaining two.


  • The evaporation/precipitation cycle is an important part of the heat energy released into the atmosphere. About 2/3 is evaporated and 1/3 is radiated heat.