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Free Content Available energy of the world ocean

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The available energy of the ocean is the excess of the sum of the ocean's internal and gravitational energies with respect to its equilibrium state, which is in thermodynamic equilibrium and has the same total entropy as the ocean. The equilibrium state for the world ocean is rigorously determined to be an isothermal ocean with a temperature of 3.66˚C and a horizontally uniform absolute salinity that increases monotonically from 27.30 g kg–1 at the surface to 47.39 g kg–1 at a depth of 5.5 km. This salinity profile is consistent with a uniform relative chemical potential of 47.44 J g–1 salt. The ocean's available energy is 220 × 1021 J or 630 MJ m–2. Most (72%) of the available energy is due to the internal energy difference between the ocean and its equilibrium state; the remaining 28% is due to the gravitational energy difference. The ocean's available energy is shown to be concentrated vertically in the upper half kilometer and geographically in the tropics and subtropics. This distribution is accurately represented by the temperature variance from the equilibrium temperature. The contributions of sea ice and variable sea surface height to the available energy are estimated to be small.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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