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How Oceans Affect the Climate

When it comes to looking at how oceans affect the climate, it is very important to point out that our Earth’s climate is made up of an extremely complex set of processes that are influenced by a wide variety of different factors. Making up more than 70% of the planet’s surface, however, oceans and their currents are among the most influential elements that have a direct effect on the formation, change and maintaining of specific climate conditions, both out in the open ocean, and in many cases, also deeper into continental areas located hundreds of miles away from the coastline.

Researchers analyzing the processes between oceans and various weather patterns have shown how oceans affect the climate directly and how there are a variety of factors that bring about these changes. Sea level temperatures and the intensity of various currents moving from colder to warmer areas, or vice versa, often play a major role in the formation of specific wind patterns and clouds that are responsible for storms and hurricanes in regions such as the southwest of the United States or areas in the West Indian Ocean. In tropical regions, the waters of the ocean also act to retain a large amount of heat produced by their contact with the Sun’s radiation.

Climate conditions and the ocean influence each other mutually in many different ways, both on local and global levels. As greenhouse gasses trap heat and energy from the Sun, the Earth’s oceans absorb that energy, later accounting for temperature differences between nearby bodies of water linking areas within the ocean. The increase in energy and the difference in temperature (also causing sea level discrepancies), later lead to cloud formation and then storms. In turn, the clouds act by blocking out sunlight, and thus reducing the temperature of the ocean. This interchanging circle of processes continues to shape both weather patterns and ocean currents intermittently, leading to overall recurring climate patterns that can affect large seas, oceans and landmasses alike.

The effect of ocean levels on the intensity and frequency of storms in certain areas is one of the main factors associated with how oceans affect the climate of the Earth. In specific areas, unique features of the relationship between coastlines and ocean currents, such as the low elevation of land – or land that is sinking – combined with tropical temperatures, can lead to severe or frequent storms, as well as floods and entire seasons or periods of the year during which weather conditions remain hostile.

Climate change has been observed for the past few decades as being closely associated to ocean currents and sea levels. The gradual increase in global sea levels and temperatures has led to many changes in the global climate that, in turn, continue to impact the oceans as well. This chain of events is extremely important when it comes to understanding the full process of how oceans affect the climate and how the Earth’s natural weather patterns and cycles may combine with shifting water levels and other, more specific factors to lead to global climate changes.


Blane Perun

Diver - Photographer - Traveler

Whale in Ocean