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17 Biggest Impacts of Ocean Currents on Climate

by Fitriani

There are several things that affect the climate of our world. They include vegetation, topography, latitude, winds and ocean currents. In recent years, ocean currents specially have caused changes in our climate. Here are 17 Impacts of Ocean Currents on Climate. We explain how ocean currents contribute to the changing climate.

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1. Gulf Stream Maintains Climate of Western Europe

The Gulf Stream is one of the most powerful ocean currents that is located in the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean currents begin from the Gulf of Mexico up to the Atlantic. Other than that, it is also a part of major ocean gyers, which is the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre. (Read: Biggest Threats to Ocean Ecosystems)

This particular ocean currents help to maintain the overall climate of the western Europe. Due to these currents, the winter isn’t as cold as it’s supposed to be due to the latitude of the area.

2. Ocean Currents Affect Cloud Formation and Heat Circulation

The ocean currents in various tropical seas can affect the quality of the waters in other parts of the seas. The warm currents can help the seas evaporate most of their moistures into the air. These moistures will form into rain or even snow. (Read:Threats to Marine Life)

The rain or snow will fall into a far northern areas. This in turn makes the waters in the northern seas to be saltier and denser. Thus, the waters affect cloud formation and heat circulation around surrounding areas.

3.Ocean Currents Absorb and Release Heat Into the Air

It is known that the ocean is hugely responsible for maintaining the climate of the earth. But the way the ocean currents circulate also helps this process for many years already. Due to the way they circulate, they carry the heat collected from the air. The heat is carried into the deepest parts of the ocean. There, it may stay or eventually resurfaces once again. The taking in and releasing of the heat through the circulation of the currents affect the entire climate of the earth. (Read more: Types of Dolphins)

4. Indian Monsoon Currents Affects Monsoon Seasons

The Indian Ocean Gyre is also one of the world’s ocean gyres that contains important currents. The gyre starts from the eastern waters of Africa and ends in the waters of western Australia. The ocean currents it contains is called the Indian monsoon currents. (Also read: Solutions to Stop Overfishing)

The currents work in a further north part of the Ocean Gyre. They flow from the Horn of Africa and continue to circulate around the archipelago, that is Indonesia. These currents are responsible for the Monsoon of South Asia.

5. Indian Monsoon Currents Change Directions to Affect Monsoon Seasons

With the help of the wind, the Indian monsoon currents bring heavy rain to India. This particular ocean currents have the ability to change directions periodically. During the summer season, the currents move in a clockwise direction since the wind comes from the southwestern Indian Ocean.

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The Summer monsoon lasts from May to September. During the winter season, the currents move in opposite direction of the Summer monsoon. The currents circulate in a counterclockwise motion with wind originating from the Tibetan plateau. The Winter monsoon lasts from October to November.

6. Somali Currents Affect Monsoon Rain

The Somali currents are ocean currents located in the western parts of the Indian Ocean. These currents are heavily influenced by the winds of the southwest monsoon in the East of Africa. The Somali currents contribute to the Indian monsoon as they also flow along the waters into the Monsoon currents. But the Somali currents begin to lose their power around the month of September when the direction of the monsoon reverses. The Somali currents then disappear and replaced by a slow drift. (Read:  Stages of Ocean Basin Evolution)

7. The Great Whirl Ocean Currents Regulate Climate 

The Great Whirl is also an important ocean currents that are a bit odd but nonetheless have a massive impact on the world’s climate. The Great Whirl plays a huge role on regulating the heat level of the North Indian Ocean which then maintains the regular working of the climate. (Also read: Decomposers of the Ocean)

Other than that, the Great Whirl currents only appear in the waters of Somalia during the summer season. To be more specific, they are actively contributing to the Monsoon currents from the early days of June and disappear when the winds weaken in August.

8. The Great Whirl Brings Heavy Rain

Not a lot is known about the Great Whirl because research is hindered by the Somali pirates occurrence. However, its ocean currents definitely affect the temperature of the ocean surface. Thus, they also influence the moisture of the extremely strong monsoon winds.

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Moreover, their ability to affect the ocean temperature means that they also generate the heavy rain. The rainfall is still quite unpredictable but with further research, understanding the Great Whirl will help to predict the monsoon rain.

9. Peru Ocean Currents Make Cooler Climate in Peru

The Peru currents are also known as the Humboldt Current System. The currents flows in the waters of South America. The currents begin from the southern parts of Chile. The current circulation ends in the northern parts of Peru. The Peru currents majorly influence the water of the ocean surface. Thus, the Peru currents help to make the climate in Peru cooler. The same cool weather effect also happens in Chile and Ecuador. (Read: Types of Ocean Birds)

10. Peru Ocean Currents Affect Climate Over Arid Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert in the northern Chile is an arid body of land. In fact, it is listed as one of the oldest and driest deserts in the whole world. It receives no rain at all. The Peru currents contribute to the condition of the desert. (Also read:Endangered Species in the Ocean Biome)

The currents help cold water to flow into the northern part of South America. As the currents flow, they also cool the surrounding air including the air above the dessert. This is what causes the desert to be dry because the cold air doesn’t have the ability to hold water vapor. Thus, any water or moistures in the air is dried out.

11. Ocean Currents Adjust Carbon Dioxide Level

Every ocean currents also help to maintain the regulation of the atmosphere. They especially help into regulating the level of carbon dioxide inside the composition of the atmosphere. In the warmer ocean, the currents help to evaporate carbon dioxide into the air. In the colder ocean, the currents help to take in the gas. This process help to regulate the heat as the greenhouse effect takes place on Earth.

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12. Western Boundary Currents Create Powerful Storms

The Western Boundary currents that start flowing waters from the eastern parts of South Africa, Asia, Australasia and into the waters of South America bring a lot of heat from the tropic seas. Due to the worsening situation of global warming, the currents are gaining strength. Each time, they are getting stronger and stronger as they are also getting hotter. The heat that they are carrying is then released as different kinds of powerful storms. (Read: Types of Ocean Habitats)

13. Ocean Currents Forming More Devastating Typhoons in China and Japan

Since global warming affects the way the ocean works, the ocean currents will also heavily impact the overall climate in some countries. In this case, according to recent studies, China and Japan will eventually have to face devastating storms in the future. The storms could include similar typhoon such as the Nepartak typhoon. (Read more: Effects of Coral Reefs Destruction)

14. Kuroshio Currents Affect Japan’s Climate

The Kuroshio current is one of the world’s largest circulating currents. They are located in the North Pacific Ocean and a part of the North Pacific Ocean gyre. They have similar properties to that of the Gulf Stream. (Also read: Types of Sea Snakes)

The Kuroshio current affects the climate in Japan since they are responsible for bringing a lot of heat from the tropical seas, particularly the Pacific Ocean. These currents bring in hot weather with plenty of moistures in the air. Thus, Japan experience a rainy season during the month of June. After that, the weather is mostly hot and humid.

15. Ocean Currents Lend More Power to Future Hurricanes

The recent devastating hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane that damaged Texas. The hurricane actually gained its strength from the ocean currents over the waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Warm currents in the ocean immensely influence the strength of a hurricane. Hurricane feeds on the moisture from the warm air that the ocean currents released.

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As the hurricane moves to colder region, the moisture condense into clouds and spin the hurricane into a terrifying storm. It is predicted that in the future, as global warming continues to progress, the ocean currents will also be affected. Therefore, storms such as hurricanes will only get stronger and worse.

16. Agulhas Currents Cause Rainfall Over Africa

Another major ocean current in the world is the Agulhas Currents. These ocean currents are located in the southwest part of the Indian Ocean. The water flows along the east coast of Africa. The Agulhas Currents are important to areas in Africa because they carry warm water from the Indian ocean right to the coasts in South Africa. The warm water bring in heat and help the process of evaporation where the wind can take the moisture and bring them to the lands which makes rainfall. Other than that, the Agulhas Currents are also a part of the global ocean circulation which helps to maintain climate all over the world. (Also read: Threats to Ocean Organisms)

17. Loop Currents Affect Weather in Mexico

The Loop Currents are ocean currents that flow in warm oceans. The currents move around Cuba to the Gulf of Mexico. They also flow into the Florida Straits and merge with the currents of the Gulf Stream. The loop currents are responsible for maintaining the climate on the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Besides that, they also affect the strength of hurricane formation. (Read:Plants in the Coral Reef)

It is predicted that in the coming years we will have to face more extreme climate. Since we have no control over it, the only we can do is to prepare the best we can to minimise potential damage and loss of lives.

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