[Answered] Explain how ocean currents help in establishing global heat balance. Also, explain the relationship between ocean currents and the habitability of the coastal areas.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain how ocean currents help in establishing global heat balance.  Also explain the relationship between ocean currents and the habitability of the coastal areas.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

The ocean covers 71 percent of the planet and holds 97 percent of its water, making the ocean a key factor in the storage and transfer of heat energy across the globe. Ocean currents represent a regular volume of water in a definite path and direction. They are like river flow in oceans.

How ocean currents help in establishing global heat balance?

  • The oceans directly absorb more than two-thirds of the Sun’s heat, an overall 25% of the planet’s global heat budget is transferred through the actions of ocean currents.
  • Ocean currents act much like a conveyor belt,transporting warm water and precipitation from the equator toward the poles and cold water from the poles back to the tropics.
  • Surface currents carry warm water toward the poles and deep currents bring most of the cold water back toward the equator.
  • Without currents in the ocean, regional temperatures would be more extreme- super hot at the equator and frigid toward the poles. E.g., the North Atlantic Drift keeps the coasts of the North Sea (western coast of Europe) warm which is unusual for such high latitude.
  • Warm currents flow along the east coast of continents resulting in warm and rainy climates while cold currents flow along the west coast of continents.
  • They pile up warm waters in tropics and this warm water is the major force behind tropical cyclones.

Relationship between ocean currents and the habitability of the coastal areas:

  • The cold ocean current creates a cooler, more stable environment for coral reefs and marine life and birds that often live much closer to the poles.
  • Warm currents lead to evaporation, which turns into the rain for the coastal areas. For instance, North Atlantic Drift brings rainfall to Western parts of Europe throughout the year.
  • In Antarctica, strong upwelling currents pump nitrogen and phosphates up from the deep sea to blooms of algae and other plants. The planktons are eaten by krill. The krill in turn feed penguins, seabirds, etc.
  • Warm ocean currents are responsible for keeping the ports ice-free. Norway is a prime beneficiary of the North Atlantic Drift.
  • Currents are also important as they help when docking and undocking boats, speeding up shipping lanes, and keeping the ships safe, primarily in narrow waterways.

Ocean currents are emerging as a possible source of alternative energy for the coastal countries. As dense water carries an enormous amount of energy that can be captured and converted into usable form through use of water turbines.

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