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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
OVERVIEW
Why Study the Ocean?

Oceans control the Earth's weather as they heat and cool, humidify and dry the air and control wind speed and direction. And the weather determines not just what you'll wear to work in the week ahead--but also whether the wheat crop in Nebraska will get enough rain to mature, whether the snow pack in the Sierras will be adequate to satisfy the needs of water southern California, whether the hurricane season in the Atlantic will be feeble of fierce, or whether El Niño will impact the eastern Pacific anchovy fisheries. Long-term weather patterns influence water supply, food supply, trade shipments, and property values. They can even foster the growth of civilizations, or kill them off. You can't escape the weather, or even change it--but being able to predict its caprice makes its impact manageable. And only by understanding the dynamics of the oceans can we begin to predict its impacts on our societies.

Why study the ocean image
Image Credit: NOAA, Dept. of Commerce

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