The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
The OCEAN PLAYS a number of roles in our present climate, and in this chapter we discuss two of the most important:
1. The ocean moderates the climate by taking in heat when the overlying atmosphere is hot, storing that energy and releasing heat when the atmosphere is cold.
2. The ocean redistributes heat in the large-scale ocean circulation.
In addition, the ocean generally has a lower albedo than land, so that if all the ocean were replaced by land, the planet as a whole would be cooler. In some contrast, when the ocean freezes it forms sea ice, which has a generally high albedo. Thus, if the climate as a whole were to warm up, then the sea-ice extent would likely diminish, lowering the overall albedo and so further warming the planet. And finally, of course, the ocean is far and away the main reservoir of water on the planet, and if the planet were dry the atmosphere would have no clouds and the greenhouse effect would be much smaller, with wholesale changes in the climate. These last few effects are a little indirect, so let's focus on the two effects we mentioned first.
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