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The Sun, Winds and Water TEKS 8.10A recognize that the sun provides the energy that drives convection within the atmosphere and ocean, producing winds and ocean currents The Sun is the source of most of the heat energy on Earth. Energy from the Sun travels through space and enters the Earth system through the atmosphere. The heat energy from the Sun provides the “fuel” for Earth’s weather. Since the Earth is tilted on its axis, areas of the earth do not receive heat energy equally. The equator receives more direct energy, while the poles receive much less. This uneven heating causes differences in temperature & pressure of large air masses… …because of the differences, areas of warm air rise while the cooler air sinks. This pattern of circulation; called convection; creates Earth’s weather. Think about what happens when you blow on hot cocoa to cool it off… …the surface of the hot cocoa moves in the direction of your breath. Winds moves ocean water in a similar way, creating surface currents. Surface currents are driven by winds that blow for long distances over the ocean surface. Because Earth is rotating, the winds blow in a curved path. Since the winds move in a curved path, so do the ocean’s surface currents. This effect is called the Coriolis Effect or Coriolis Force. Winds or waters that originate near the poles carry high pressure, cold air or water. Winds or waters that flow from near the equator transport lower pressure, warm air or water. As you can see, the Earth’s oceans and winds act as a system to distribute heat energy around the globe.