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13 Effects of Ocean Currents on the Temperature

by Ranisa Alda

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, currents are movements of ocean water in a continuous flow, created largely by surface winds but also partly by temperature and salinity gradients, Earth’s rotation, and tides (the gravitational effects of the sun and moon). In short, currents are the horizontal and vertical movements of water that occurs in the ocean.

Usually, in northern hemisphere, current systems would flow clockwise while in the southern hemisphere, it would work vice versa of the northern side which is counterclockwise. The currents would usually be in circular patterns that often trace along the coastlines.

Ocean currents have a role to transport cold water from the poles to the tropics, also precipitation and warm water from the equator to the poles. Therefore, ocean currents have a role in regulating the global climate and temperature.

It helps to counteract the uneven distribution of solar radiation that reach the Earth’s surface. Without the help of ocean currents, Earth’s regional temperature will be deeply affected and might make some part of the world to be less habitable. Without further ado, here are some explanations on how effects of ocean currents on the temperature can happen. See also: Effects of Ocean Currents

  1. Ocean Currents Help Spread Ocean Heat to the Land

When the ocean gets heated up by the sun, ocean currents that moves around the Earth then also brings the heat on the ocean, thus channeled the heat on to the land.

See also: Impact of Ocean Currents

2. Surface Currents

There are two types of ocean currents, which are surface currents and deepwater currents. This particular bullet point will explain the surface current first. The surface current can be found in the upper 400 meters in the water. The surface current is equal to 10% of all water in the ocean. Surface ocean currents happens due to the wind blow, which also create gyres out of the currents.

See also: Causes of Ocean Surface Circulation Current

3. Deepwater Currents

Opposite of the surface ones, deepwater currents can be found under 400 meters in the water, thus, making it into 90% of water in the ocean. The deepwater currents also spun around due to gravitational forces. The difference is that the deepwater currents moves are mainly caused by the differences in densities of the water.

See also: Impacts of Ocean Currents on Climate

4. Gyre

Gyre is a circular water pattern which is formed by the different densities of the deep ocean currents. One example of gyre is the North Pacific Gyre that heats up Vancouver, Canada.

See also: Oceans in the World

5. Downwelling and Upwelling

The ocean water, as explained before, takes a longer time to both heat up and cool down. The warmth water will then get lighter and will be replaced by the cold water that is denser. This part, is called upwelling. While the downwelling is when the warm water filled the void that is created by the cold water. Both the downwelling and upwelling plays a part in the distribution of nutrients in the ocean.

See also: Characteristics of the Indian Ocean Trade

6. Create Temperature

For example, how the land can get hotter and cooler is due to water that can get warmer or cooler way slower than the land. Then, when the currents bring the heated water over to the land, the land will then heat up and creates humidity.

See also: Characteristics of Southern Ocean

7. Formation of Cloud and Rain

The ocean currents help change the trade of winds that are formed when the air that is heated over the oceans, gets lighter and then get replaced by the dense cold air. The gap that is created by the cold air will then be replaced by the warm air and an equal distribution of cold and warm air will take place in the same way.

See also: Main Causes of Ocean Tides

  1. Changing Patterns

If the ocean currents change its cycle, for example due to changing salinity of the ocean water, the weather on each parts of the Earth then would change. The changing density of the ocean water will make the currents either sink deeper into the ocean or can’t sink enough, which then will make the currents patterns also change too.

See also: Water Mass Characteristics on Indian Ocean

  1. Arid Areas Will Be Drier

When the patterns change, then the areas that are originally arid will become drier. This is because the currents can’t bring enough water to the areas since the density of the water has change. The situation can create further damage such as drought which can be resulted in food scarcity.

See also: Plants that Live in the Pacific Ocean

  1. Heavy Rainfalls on Wet Areas

Areas that are usual with rainfalls will then receive more rainfalls. As the opposite of the arid areas, this may happen because the changing currents cycle bring more water that are supposedly for the arid areas to the wet areas instead. This can further create disasters as well such as failing crops, flood, and landslide.

See also: Characteristics of Ocean Levels

  1. Global Cooling

One of the effects of ocean currents on the temperature when the currents experience some disturbance was found by some researchers in 2004. The study found that one of the possible impacts from the changing conveyor belt of the ocean currents. The study found that if the conveyor belt of the ocean currents altered fully in the future, the planet might actually plunge into global cooling.

See also: Ocean Sediments

  1. Increasing Amount of CO2

There were two researchers, named Manabe and Stouffer, found in 1993 that the increasing amount of CO2 can be resulted in the decreasing of Atlantic ocean’s convective currents. The study further predicted that if there is a four-fold increase in CO2, then the current will begin to slow down and will eventually stop over a period of 100 to 200 years later.

See also: Economic Uses of Ocean

  1. Unusual Heating of Pacific Ocean Water

A study found that every 2 to 12 years, the Pacific ocean will experience an unusual heating that will effect the surface currents. This phenomenon will cause a disturbance to the weather pattern on the region and will be resulted in some extreme weathers such as the El Nino and La Nina.

See also: Different Species of Coral

Now that we’ve come to an end, we hope that this article will show you enough and helpful information on how the ocean currents create the temperature as well as the effects of ocean currents on the temperature when the ocean currents experience some disturbance.

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