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Regional State of the Coast Report

Western Indian Ocean

image of Regional State of the Coast Report

The Regional State of Coast Report for the western Indian Ocean (WIO) is the first comprehensive regional synthesis to provide insights into the enormous economic potential around the WIO, the consequential demand for marine ecosystem goods and services to match the increasing human population, the pace and scale of environmental changes taking place in the region and the opportunities to avoid serious degradation in one of the world’s unique and highly biodiverse oceans.

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Sea/air interaction

The atmosphere and the ocean form a coupled system, constantly exchanging mass (in the form of water, gas, spray, bubbles and particles) and energy at the interface between the seawater and air. This energy exchange occurs in the form of momentum (through wind stress) and heat. In other words, the atmosphere forces the ocean through exchange of momentum, net surface heat flux and freshwater flux. The exchanges at the sea/air interface are irregular, taking place at rates which are largely induced by the dynamics at the surface. The exchanges affect the biological, chemical and the physical properties of the ocean thus influencing its biogeochemical processes, weather and climate. Heat loss from the ocean to the atmosphere plays a vital role of regulating heat balance as well as moisture and energy budgets of the atmosphere. The mean climate of the Earth over long time scales is therefore partly shaped by the convergence/ divergence of the oceanic heat exchanges, which act as sources and sinks of heat for the atmosphere (Lee and others, 2010).

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