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Surface Currents and Climate
Transcript of Surface Currents and Climate
Surface Currents and Climate
Surface currents greatly affect the climate in many parts of the world. Surface currents carry warm water from the tropics to the poles, and bring cold water back toward the equator. They can warm or cool coastal land areas, too!
Warm Water Currents
Warm water currents create warmer climates in areas that would otherwise be cooler. The Gulf Stream is an example. It carries warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic ocean. It then flows to the British Isles, creating a mild climate.
Cold Water Currents
Cold water currents also affect the climate of the land where they flow. The California Current carries cold water from the Pacific Ocean south to Mexico. It keeps the climate along the west coast cooler than the inland climate.
In most parts of the ocean, surface waters do not usually mix with deep ocean waters. However, sometimes mixing occurs when winds cause upwelling. Upwelling is the movement of cold water upward from the deep ocean.
real time data and video
How do we know information from the ocean?
Every 2 to 12 years, surface-water temperatures along the coast of South America rise. This periodic change in the location of warm and cool surface waters is called El Nino. El Nino prevents upwelling from occurring. Without upwelling, fish die or go somewhere else for food. Less fish hurt people's chances for food or livelihoods.
El Nino can cause flash floods, hurricanes, and mudslides when it changes weather patterns. It is responsible for mudslides in California, as well as deadly tornadoes in Florida.
How do they know?
A network of buoys operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are anchored to the ocean floor record data about surface temperature, air temperature, currents, and winds. When South Pacific trade winds are not as strong, or temperatures rise, an El Nino is likely to occur.
Upwelling brings up tiny ocean organisms, minerals, and other nutrients from the deeper layers of the water. Without this motion, the surface waters would be very scarce in nutrients.
Areas of upwelling are usually home to huge schools of fish.