Lab 6.2 – How does the ocean react to changes in the atmosphere?

Fundamental concept: Establish the relationship between barometric pressure, wind speed and wave height
Estimated time to complete: 30 minutes
Data skills preparation: Lab 2.1 – Time series
Materials needed: calculator

Your objective for this activity is to use OOI data to investigate how the changes in the atmosphere you examined in Lab 6.1 impact the ocean surface. Specifically you determine how long high wind speeds were present at the instrument location and then look for any relationships between these winds and the height of ocean surface waves that develop.

Barometric Pressure and Wind Speed


Interpretation Questions:

  1. Calculate the total decrease in barometric pressure between January 4, 2018 0000 and January 4, 2018, 1800.
  2. How much did the winds increase during this same 18-hour time period?
  3. Find the first time the wind speed exceeded 12 m/s and then the time when it dropped below 12m/s again. Calculate the total time the wind speed was above 12 m/s. Remember you can hover over the wind speed data with your cursor to record the wind speed and time.

Wave Height and Wind Speed


  1. Identify the maximum wind speed and maximum wave height during the week.
  2. Is there a positive or negative relationship between wind speed and wave height?
  3. Do changes in wind speed and wave height happen at the same time or does one happen before the other?

Application Questions:

  1. A storm like this is referred to as a ‘bomb cyclone’ if the barometric pressure drops by at least 24 mbar in 24 hours. Does this storm fit the description of a bomb cyclone?
  2. If the winds had reached higher speeds, what do you think would have happened to the height of the waves near the buoy location?

Reflection Question:

  1. An 8-meter wave height is about the same size as a two-story building. What are the possible impacts of a wave this size?