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What role does the ocean play in the weather?

The ocean plays a leading role in the Earth's climate.

Hurricane Gustav

Hurricane Gustav was one of a series of hurricanes to strike the United States in 2008. Hurricanes originate over the tropical regions of the ocean under conditions where high humidity, light winds, and warm sea surface temperatures combine.

The ocean plays an important role in shaping our climate and weather patterns.

Warm ocean waters provide the energy to fuel storm systems that provide fresh water vital to all living things. Understanding and predicting precipitation is critical to farmers who decide which crops to plant, and how deep, based in part on soil moisture levels. Crop and food prices may increase when weather that is too wet or too dry adversely affects crops.

Like precipitation, extreme heat and cold also affect livestock management.

Weather prediction can be a life-saving tool. Aside from helping people prepare for catastrophic storms, prediction can help citizens and governments anticipate extreme hot and cold temperatures, which may cause death among the elderly.

Water management experts study how much rainfall to anticipate so they can manage reservoir levels and water usage, to ensure everyone has abundant water supplies.

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Last updated: 01/20/23
Author: NOAA
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