Ocean Evaporation and Precipitation

  • Luis Gimeno
  • Raquel Nieto
  • Anita Drumond
  • Ana María Durán-Quesada


In view of the threat of global climate change, the proper understanding of the intensity of the hydrological cycle and of its development over time is one of the most important challenges of the century, at least in the area of the geosciences. The hydrological cycle can essentially be summarized to be the evaporation of moisture in one location, offset by precipitation elsewhere.


Warm Pool South Pacific Convergence Zone West African Monsoon Inter Tropical Convergence Zone Atlantic Warm Pool 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Atmospheric rivers

The analysis of timescales shorter than climatic reveals that there are three to five major conduits of atmospheric circulation in each hemisphere, each of which is responsible for the transport of large amounts of water in narrow streams from the tropics through the midlatitudes toward the higher latitudes. These conduits were termed “atmospheric rivers” [10] because the way that the moisture that is transported is comparable with the way that water is transported in a terrestrial river such as the Amazon.

Clausius–Clapeyron equation

This is an equation that relates the saturation vapor pressure of air over liquid water as a function of temperature.

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation is a quasiperiodic climatic pattern that occurs throughout the tropical Pacific Ocean. It is characterized by variations in the temperature of the surface of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean (El Niño) coupled with variations in air pressure at the Earth’s surface in the tropical Pacific (the Southern Oscillation). Warmer (colder) waters than normal over the eastern Tropical Pacific characterize an El Niño (La Niña) event, and this anomalous oceanic phenomenon is accompanied by a higher (lower) air pressure at the Earth’s surface in the western Pacific.


Evapotranspiration is a term that describes the transport of water into the atmosphere from different surfaces, including from the soil (soil evaporation), and from vegetation (transpiration).

Feedback mechanisms

These are processes such that when a system generates output, that output serves as input to an earlier stage in the operation of the system. This input to earlier stages causes a system to behave in a self-controlling manner. Feedback mechanisms can either amplify (“positive feedback”) or diminish (“negative feedback”) the effects of a change.

Hadley cell

This is a pattern of circulation that occurs in the tropical atmosphere, and involves a rising motion near the equator, a poleward flow at the upper troposphere (about 10–15 km above the surface), descending motion in the subtropics, and equatorward flow near the surface, which then completes the cell.

Inter tropical convergence zone

This is a band of cloudiness and precipitation that encircles the Earth near the equator where the northerly and southerly trade winds converge.

Low-level jet

This is the name given to a narrow zone of strong winds above the boundary layer (about 1,500 m above the surface), and is responsible for most of the moisture that is transported in tropical areas.


Seasonal precipitation caused by changes in atmospheric circulation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea.

South Pacific convergence zone

This is a band of low-level convergence, cloudiness, and precipitation that extends southeastward from the Indian–Pacific warm pool.

Surface freshwater flux

The difference between rates of evaporation and precipitation per unit area


The relationship between, and the influence of, weather patterns in distant locations.


The oceanic depth at which the rate of decrease of temperature with depth is at a maximum. The thermocline may be considered to be the zone of separation between the oceanic mixed layer, which is influenced by atmospheric fluxes, and the deep ocean.

Walker circulation

This is a conceptual model of the zonal/vertical airflow in the tropical troposphere, caused by differences in the distribution of heat over the Earth’s surface. Over the Pacific Ocean, low-level winds flow from the Eastern Pacific (characterized by high pressure) toward Indonesia (lower pressure), where the air then ascends to the high troposphere, before it then flows from Indonesia toward the Eastern Pacific, where it descends again.




African easterly jet.


American monsoon system.


Atlantic warm pool.


Clausius−Clapeyron equation.


Turbulent exchange coefficient controlled by the wind speed, the atmospheric stability, and the difference in temperature between the air and the sea.


Difference between the specific humidity of saturation at the sea surface and the near-surface atmospheric specific humidity.


The months of December, January, and February.


Surface freshwater flux, defined to be the difference between the rates of evaporation (E) and precipitation (P), per unit area.


Rate of evaporation.


El Niño–Southern Oscillation.


European Reanalysis Interim.


Great Plains low-level jet.


Global Precipitation Climatology Project.


The months of June, July, and August.


Inter Tropical Convergence Zone.


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


Indian–western Pacific warm pool.


North American monsoon (system).


Modern Era Retrospective-analysis for Research and Applications.


Objectively analyzed air–sea fluxes.


South American low-level jet.


South American monsoon.


South Pacific Convergence Zone.


Sea surface temperature.


Total column water vapor.


Near-surface wind.


Vertically integrated moisture flux.


West African monsoon.


Western Hemisphere warm pool.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Gimeno
    • 1
  • Raquel Nieto
    • 1
  • Anita Drumond
    • 1
  • Ana María Durán-Quesada
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Physics Laboratory (EPhysLab)Universidade de VigoOurenseSpain

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