Hello! My name is Annie Mckay, but you guys can just call me Anne. In this learning expedition, I will be taking you all over the world, to different beaches. I will also give you a summary of information about ocean currents. But first, let me tell you a story.
In 1992, a shipping container filled with bath toys was lost at sea. These toys are still washing up at beaches all over the world. They have been found in Hawaii, Alaska, and South America. There are also others that are still bobbing in the oceans 20 years later. These ducks have been named the "Friendly Floatees" and have many followers who have been trying to track them. These toys have helped scientists learn more about plastic pollution and understand ocean currents. These ducks have helped find out how long it took to go through the whole North Pacific Gyre.
Now, that we've got that over with. Let's get down to the real, valuable information.
I am going to tell you, a little bit about density. Basically, the less density something has, the lighter it is. In the ocean, water with high salinity is very dense and the salinity the water has, the denser it is. On the other hand, the warmer the water in the ocean is, the less dense it is. There are 2 types of ocean currents: surface ocean currents and deep ocean currents. Deep ocean currents are denser than surface currents because the salt from the surface ocean currents sinks down it to the deep ocean currents. This make the deep ocean currents denser, than the surface ocean currents.
I don't think you really know what I told you about is connected. Well, they are connected because of ocean currents. An ocean current is a continuous flow of water in the ocean. The "Friendly Floatees" I told you about before, were moved around the globe by ocean currents. Density can also impact ocean currents.
Surface currents can impact Earth’s climate by carrying warm water to cold places and cold water to warm places. This makes the places near the equator cooler than they are supposed to be and cold places near the poles warmer than they are supposed to be. If the surface currents did not do this, it would be a lot harder for some species to thrive. Deep ocean currents impact Earth’s climate by distributing heat to the different places on Earth and stabilizing Earth’s climate. The thermal energy from warm water makes the air warmer and the thermal energy from cool water makes the air cooler. For example, the North Atlantic Gyre brings Europe warm water, through warm surface currents and the Indian Ocean Gyre brings Australia cold water, through cold surface currents.
Heat, from the sun, drives the circulation of the ocean and air on Earth. The circulation of wind on Earth is what makes surface ocean currents move. This in turn, makes the deep ocean currents move. The ocean absorbs and stores more heat than the atmosphere, which is why ocean currents have such an important job. When there are extreme variations in the temperature of ocean water, the lands that the ocean currents go to, have messed up climates. For example, a country that is usually warm because of the currents, will be colder and places that are usually colder, will be warm. This impacts life on Earth because these changes can create droughts which is bad for life on Earth.
Interactions between ocean currents and the atmosphere impact the climate by making it warmer or colder. They can also decrease or increase the amount of precipitation.
Thanks for coming! We hope you learned something new and had fun! Bye!