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Geosciences LibreTexts

Impacts on Ocean Circulation and Weather

  • Page ID
    1254
  • The ocean encompasses over seventy percent of the Earth and is a primary regulator of heat through ocean currents . Ocean currents move vast amounts of heat across the planet via the great ocean conveyor belt and is driven by both temperature and salinity . As the water is transported so does the heat along with it, so tropical waters moving along the currents toward Northern Europe releases heat causing those areas to be warmer (Sverdup 204) . The problem is Greenland and the Artic is losing ice so there is more available freshwater which can cause the great conveyor built to slow down . It slows because it will take longer for the water from the tropics to mix and sink below to become deeper current with the new addition of freshwater from melted ice . This slow down can have great effects on both northern Europe and the tropics . For Europe they would experience cooler temperatures which can devastate crops in these regions, and as for the tropics they would experience warmer climates due to warmer water not moving up north to cool .

    Weather has become more extreme due to the changes in climate causing heat waves, disastrous floods, and hurricanes . Sixty years ago the United States temperature record highs and lows were roughly equal to one another, however, now records highs are twice as much as lows (Overview) .This data is significant because it is a sign of a warming climate and can be correlated to the recent heat waves and droughts we have today . Especially in the southwest of the United States experiences high temperatures and droughts which can be detrimental to farmland and natural systems . Not only droughts, but with sea level rising in the east they are more susceptible to flooding due to heavy rain or tropical storms . Tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean has also increased during the past 20 years and is closely related to variation in sea surface temperature in the tropical part of the Atlantic (Climate Change) . Risings sea surface temperatures increase the probability of hurricanes occurring, but there is no correlation to strength of storm to the sea surface temperature (Micheals) . However, with the rise in sea level these tropical storms can run through the coastline because there is less of a buffer between the sea and land causing more damage to be done by the storms .

    Sverdrup, H . U . , Martin W . Johnson, and Richard H . Fleming . The Oceans, Their Physics, Chemistry, and General Biology . New York: Prentice-Hall, 1942 . Print .

    Michaels, Patrick J . , Paul C . Knappenberger, and Robert E . Davis . "Sea-surface Temperatures and Tropical Cyclones in the Atlantic Basin . " Geophysical Research Letters 33 . 9 (2006): n . pag . Web .

    "Overview." Climate Communication. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <https://www.climatecommunication.org...ther/overview/>.