Ocean gyres are very large circulating ocean currents. The word ‘gyre’ itself means circle. Gyres are affected by the Earth’s rotation and the winds. They are often known for their role in maintaining the salinity and the nutrient content within the oceans.
The gyres are divided into 5 which are the South Pacific, North Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic and Indian. For further insight on these gyres, know these 15 Importance of Ocean Gyres. The ocean gyres bring major contributions to the working and the features of the oceans.
1. Influence the Thermohaline Circulation
The Thermohaline Circulation is a large circulation of ocean water in the world. It is affected by both the salinity and the temperature. Other influence includes the ocean gyres. Their movement affects how the Thermohaline Circulation. The gyres help the circulation to bring in more nutritious content for marine creatures.
2. Distribute Eggs and Larvae
Marine wildlife produce eggs and larvae as a natural process. They rely on gyres to help them grow successfully. Through the water currents, all the eggs and larvae can be spread around other parts of the oceans. This prevent them from clumping into one location only. They won’t have to fight for space later on.
3. Squid Migration
The North Atlantic gyre helps to migrate squids in the ocean. At first, the squid eggs are carried by the water currents to be suspended in medium depth. It is where the eggs will be safe from predators. They will hatch and soon after will move to the Canadian waters. They continue to migrate between the months of June and July.
4. Feeding the Fish
Ocean gyres give contribution to the food web in the ocean. They can cause upwelling which will provide nutrients to many marine creatures. Upwelling happens the most along the subtropical gyres. The fish will be able to gain more food and nutrients in the coastal areas.
Also read: Effects of Ocean Upwelling
5. Eels Movement
Eels make their way into the subtropical gyres just so they can release their eggs. For this, the speed of the water currents in the gyres have to be right. If the currents are moving too slow then the eels will miss their time to properly spawn in the ocean. It can cause their population to reduce as eels are quite slow to grow.
6. Salmon Migration
Salmon regularly migrates through the ocean gyres. For instance, the Atlantic salmon is known to migrate into the North Atlantic gyre. There, the salmon are able to feed themselves and to spawn. Many salmons can also be found in the Labrador Sea gyre.
7. Maintain Population
It is important for the ocean to maintain the population of the many species it holds. A depletion in a population species can mess up the food web of the ocean. The functioning of the ocean can be disrupted and those species might end up becoming extinct. As the ocean gyres feed, migrate and distribute marine species, the survival rate for them can still be high.
8. Help Phytoplankton to Grow
Phytoplankton is crucial as it’s one of the main producer in the food web. Their production and population will heavily affects every marine creatures. The ocean gyres can help the phytoplankton population to increase.
With their continuously moving water currents, they are able to bring in a lot of nutrients. Other than that, the nutrients are also spread across the oceans for the phytoplankton to feed on.
9. Create the Sargasso Sea
The existence of the Sargasso Sea would not be possible without the ocean gyres. The sea is not bounded by any land but by 4 different types of ocean gyres. The sea is clear and blue. It is famous for its seaweed population. Eels go to this sea during the spawning season. The Sargasso Sea also acts as a haven for many endangered sea turtles.
10. Studies in How They Carry Heat
Ocean gyres enable scientists to study how heat is transported across the oceans. The gyres actually absorb the heat of the sun. The heat is carried to the path where the gyres are moving. By studying this, scientists can determine the effect of the heat on the changing nature of the climate.
11. Help Determine Climate
Since the ocean gyres are able to carry heat, the climate of the nearby land gets affected. As an example, the North Atlantic gyre affects the overall climate in Florida and extends to other European countries. During the winter, the climate tends to be warm. In the summer, it turns colder.
12. Influence Air Temperature
The ocean gyres can also affect the temperature in the air through the water they carry. When they carry cold water from the poles into the equator, the nearby coastlines will have cooler air temperature. When they reach the equator, the water will turn warmer and make the temperature warm too.
13. Bringing in Monsoon
For countries such as India and Indonesia, the monsoon is important. They replenish the land that has been dried during the dry season. Water restoration into the land will be beneficial to agriculture. The Indian Ocean gyre is what brings the Indian monsoon season. The monsoon will span from Africa to Asia.
Also read: Characteristics of the Indian Ocean Trade
14. Collect Man Made Waste
The North Pacific gyre is able to collect man made waste that make their way into the oceans. All of the waste are collected into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Although no plastic waste in the ocean is more preferred, the ocean gyre can reduce the distribution of the waste. All of it will be trapped into one concentrated location only.
15. Research on Impact of Waste
With the presence of the garbage patch, scientists can carry out research on ocean currents. The gyre will help in understanding how waste is carried out through the ocean waters. It can also give more insight on the long term effects of pollution and finding the right solution.
Without the ocean gyres, the ocean will lose one of its crucial piece of the puzzle. It won’t function the way it is now and our world may also have a different way of working.