Oceans and Climate Change

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With a combined flow measuring 30 Svedrup or 30 million cubic meters per second which may even increase up to 150 Svedrup, the Gulf Stream increases in speed as it gathers more warm water along the way. From the North Atlantic it heads to Europe then to the west coast of Africa (“Ocean Currents,” 2008). The Gulf Stream affects the climate of the coastal areas by making America and Europe warm through the constantly evaporating warm water. This particular ocean current is worth mentioning because in case it ceases to flow, the whole of America and Europe will freeze (Gagosian, 2007). Another major ocean current is the Labrador Current, which is a cold water current that keeps the east coast of Canada cold. It passes through Labrador and Newfoundland, and meets the Gulf Stream at the Grand Banks. The meeting of the cold Labrador current and the warm Gulf Stream at this point marks the spot for very rich fishing grounds for commercial fish that include swordfish and halibut (“Ocean Currents,” 2008). The equatorial currents – the North Equatorial Current and the South Equatorial Current – are ocean currents that cross the equator. The North Equatorial Current is a westward flowing current in the North Atlantic and is mainly caused by the Atlantic trade wind belt. It originates from the northwestern coast of Africa and goes to the South Atlantic and finally to the North Atlantic. This particular current is made up of cool waters (Bischof et al., 2004). On the other hand, the South Equatorial current, which also flows westward, crosses the equator from the Atlantic to the Pacific but only to a lesser extent. Unlike the North Equatorial current, it is a warm current that embraces South America and meets up with the Brazil current going northwest to the Caribbean Sea, while a part of it goes to the Pacific and Indian Oceans (Gore, 2012). While the North Equatorial Current provides coolness to the climate of the North Atlantic, the South Equatorial Current provides heat to the South Atlantic and the Pacific area. The explanation behind the fact that ocean currents cause significant changes in the climates of the coastal areas is that 71% of the earth is water located mainly in the oceans and this huge reservoir of water absorbs “twice as much of the sun’s radiation” compared to how much the lithosphere or atmosphere can absorb (Rahmstorf, 1997). The mere fact that radiation and heat is absorbed by the ocean waters certainly translates to their significant role in affecting climates of the coastal areas. The continuous flow of the ocean currents is known as the Ocean Conveyor Belt. The Ocean Conveyor Belt is similar to a conveyor in a factory as it connects all the other ocean currents in order to facilitate the transfer of warm water from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans. It also returns cold water from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Ocean Conveyor Belt plays a “crucial” role in shaping the climate of the earth. The Ocean Conveyor Belt works through the combined action of the winds, the waves, the currents, and the tides caused by the pull of gravity resulting in a motion known as the “thermohaline circulation” (“The Great Ocean,” 2008). This is also called the Meridional Overturning Circulation, or MOC (Masters, 2012). Since the Ocean Conveyor Belt makes up the largest group of interlinked ocean currents around the world and since these currents affect the climates of t