When you think about the ocean, you may catch yourself thinking about what goes on in the deep water. After all, that’s where you can find marine creatures live in their ecosystem. However, the ocean surface is no less important than that. You swim in it, ships float on it and various things drift along. A lot happen on the surface of the ocean.
These 15 Characteristics of Ocean Surface will tell you what the upper part of the ocean is really like. Its features give contribution to the marine ecosystem and the world.
1. Influenced by the Moon
The ocean surface is heavily influenced by the moon. The surface of the water can fall and rise along with the waves. This is also known as the high tide and the low tide. Depending on what state the moon is, the water naturally move along with it.
2. Moved by Winds
Being the highest layer of the ocean, the water on its surface is more affected by wind. The direction of the water is driven by the wind that blows over the region. The ocean surface will have currents once the wind reaches a significant strength and moves the first 400 metres of water.
3. Carry Ocean Waves
The ocean surface is where the ocean waves can form. The wind in the open air can push the movement of the water that lie on the surface of the ocean. This friction will make the ocean waves to gain more energy. When the energy is high enough, the ocean waves can turn into an ocean current.
See more: Functions of Ocean Waves
4. Upwelling and Downwelling
Both upwelling and downwelling can occur on the ocean surface. Upwelling is when the deep water rises up to the top parts of the ocean. Meanwhile, downwelling is when the water from the surface moves to the deep water. The ocean surface is affected by both of these process as this is the chance for nutrients to be cycled in the marine ecosystem.
Also read: Effects of Ocean Upwelling
5. Sea Surface Variations
There are actually variations on the surface of the ocean. They are similar to the high points and the low points of land. This characteristic enables researchers to study the shape of the ocean and the energy it holds. Moreover, the variations are crucial in understanding the different circulations that take place in the ocean.
6. High Nutrient Concentration
There is actually a high amount of nutrients that lie on the ocean surface. Some of the nutrients are carbon, ammonia and phosphate. These components are used by marine plants that float on the top part of the ocean water. They may fall into the deep water and contribute to the formation of the ocean floor as well.
7. High Exposure to Sunlight
Another characteristic of the ocean surface is its exposure to sunlight. It’s the are of the ocean where sunlight hits the most. Marine creatures can come up to the surface in search of prey where the water is more visible due to the light.
Photosynthesis happens mostly on the ocean surface as there is more sunlight there. It helps marine creatures, mostly producers, to carry out the process of photosynthesis. Phytoplankton, for instance, highly needs sunlight to grow. They serve as food for many marine organisms that live in the ocean.
See more: Importance of Marine Phytoplankton
9. Green Water
A large portion of the ocean surface looks green. This is one characteristic that is influenced by the amount of chlorophyll in the ocean water. In areas where phytoplankton flourish, the chlorophyll has the ability to turn the water green because there is just so many of them. This is a great thing because it means that the water is healthy and able to support life.
10. Large Zooplankton Population
Zooplankton act as filters and play a part in the marine food web. Most of their population can be found in the ocean surface where phytoplankton flourish. Zooplankton do not swim on their own and rely on currents to drag them around the ocean.
See also: Decomposers of the Ocean
11. Heat Absorption
The ocean surface can absorb heat. It is able to take in all the heat that is present in the atmosphere and the heat that is emitted by the sun. The absorbed heat greatly reduces the rate of global warming on earth. This affects the climate all over the world and also the future health of the ocean itself.
12. Heat Transportation
Ocean surface has currents that can travel across the water on Earth. These currents actually transport the heat that the ocean absorbs. This process that happens on the surface of the ocean regulates the climate of different regions in the world. It is able to lessen the cold temperature in regions of high latitude.
Read also: Effects of Ocean Currents on the Temperature
13. Ocean Eddies Formation
This next characteristic of the ocean surface is the fact that it has eddies. Ocean eddies are currents that rotate over a period of time. They may even last for a couple of months. Eddies that form over warm ocean surface do not contain a lot of nutrients that marine creatures can benefit from. However, cold eddies have a lot and various marine life can be found around them.
14. Water Cycle Process
The ocean surface affects the water cycle process in the world. This process is also known as the hydrologic cycle. The surface of the ocean is important in this process as this is where the majority of the evaporation takes place. This will in turn affect the amount of water precipitation that fall both on earth and the ocean.
Read also: Importance of Ocean in Hydrologic Cycle
15. Supports Marine Life
Most mammals rely on ocean surface to survive. Though they swim inside the ocean water, they still come up to the surface to breathe. They need their supply of oxygen so they don’t die. This is why a group of dolphins often swim on the surface. They can show off their acrobatic skills and also take in fresh air.
With all these characteristics, it is clear that the ocean surface is as important as any other parts of the ocean. Increasing threats to the ocean should make people strive to minimise the harm that goes into it.