"How do the ocean and the atmosphere relate to each other with regard to climate?"
"Susan Avery: In our planetary system we have two major fluids, the ocean and the atmosphere. Think of them as two dance partners. In order to get a choreographic dance, they have to talk to each other through the “ocean-atmosphere interface” - which is wave motion, spray and all the other things that help them communicate. The two create different dances: an El Nino dance, a hurricane dance. In reality what they do together is transport heat, carbon and water, which are the major global cycles in our planetary system."
From a mathematical point of view these fluids, the oceans and the atmosphere, are governed by the Navier-Stokes equations. The interfaces between these two fluids is an "unstable" material interface, in the sense that small disturbances can grow into an violent storm. These interfaces are not modeled adequately by the Navier-Stokes and still subject of current research. The difference between the HLLE scheme, which I proposed as a young doctorate, and classical methods based on Riemann solver is just the modeling of the interface. I took decades before it was at least partially accepted, that the mathematical description of material interfaces in the Navier-Stokes equations is incomplete.
"So our seas are able to absorb a massive amount of heat?
Yes. The atmosphere is a gas, the ocean is a mass of liquid, which covers two thirds of our planet. It has a huge capacity to store heat, but that heat doesn't just stay at the surface. When you only talk about heat and temperatures at the surface, you're ignoring what's happening below the surface in the ocean, and once the ocean gets heated it's not going to stay there, because there is this fluid motion, and so we're getting to see greater and greater temperature increases at greater and greater depths. And once that heat gets into the ocean, it can stay there for centuries. Whereas in the upper ocean it might stay 40 or 50 years, when you get into the deeper parts, because of the density and capacity, it stays there for a long time".
.. the oceans are a stabilizing factor in our climate and ecosystem. I think most people invest today more money in the maintenance of air-conditioner in there cars and homes, than in the conservation of the oceans. For a stable climate however, the oceans are more important.
"People who don't live on the coast think the ocean is not affecting them, when really it does. It affects them in many ways. I think we have to articulate what the ocean does, in terms of providing services to you as a human being. Every second breath you take comes from the ocean, so you should thank the ocean just for your ability to breathe. Thank the ocean for helping regulate our climate and rain patterns, thank the ocean for the fish and food supply it provides – and perhaps not over-fish it so much, so you can sustain that wonderful resource. Thank the ocean for filtering a lot of pollution. A little oyster can filter so many toxins out of our water systems."
"What's in the Arctic is not staying in the Arctic. What's in the Antarctic is not staying in the Antarctic. I would say the polar regions are regions where we don't have a lot of time before we see major, massive changes, where we really need to get our observations and science and models working together."
....get our observations and science and models working together. A decades old question and it will remain a question, if the mathematical challenges are further hided in computer programs. http://dw.com/p/1JuqQ