Regional State of the Coast Report

Western Indian Ocean

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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.



The ocean’s role in the hydrological cycle

More than 70 per cent of the earth’s surface is covered by the oceans (Stewart 2008). Because of the water’s high heat capacity, the oceans absorb and retain a greater amount of solar energy, far more than the land and atmosphere (Linacre and Geerts 1997). Almost half of the absorbed solar energy at the sea surface is released back to the atmosphere in form of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and latent heat flux. The latter produces atmospheric water vapour (Linacre and Geerts 1997). Water vapour plays a key role in the Earth’s energy balance and drives important processes within the hydrological cycle (Linacre and Geerts 1997, Talley and others, 2011), upon which human existence and permanence on Earth’s surface depend. In this chapter, the hydrological cycle is the process of water circulation and exchange through the hydrosphere - atmosphere - lithosphere systems.


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