Oceans are huge bodies of water that cover nearly 70% of the Earth’s surface. They are an essential part of the world’s ecosystem, sustaining life and supporting many human activities. They play an important role in the carbon cycle and in global climate regulation.
The ocean is a major source of drinking water and food worldwide. It also provides a valuable means of transport, commerce, and recreation.
In addition, it provides a natural habitat for many species of plants and animals. It regulates the temperature of the atmosphere, affecting weather patterns and sea level.
It also influences the global climate by transferring heat from the tropics to the polar regions, and regulating sea ice.
A large proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans. This occurs through the biological process of photosynthesis in the upper sunlit zone and bacterial decomposition of the organic matter that is formed there.
This photosynthesis is dominated by microscopic free floating algae called phytoplankton. Phytoplankton absorb light from the sun and convert it into energy for themselves, which is the source of most of the food that sustains the ocean ecosystem.
In addition to producing oxygen and consuming carbon dioxide, phytoplankton release trace elements such as iodine and calcium. These trace elements are the basis for the skeletal and chemical structures of many organisms, such as bacteria and coral reefs.
The dissolved organic matter that results from this process is also an important source of nutrients for the marine environment. These dissolved organic substances include phosphorus, nitrogen, iron, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur.
These elements are essential for the growth of plants and animal life. They are absorbed and reabsorbed by the ocean, and their concentrations vary with the amount of sunlight in each region.
Because of this cycle, the ocean is in constant flux and changes its composition constantly. It is therefore vulnerable to a variety of environmental problems, including climate change, overfishing, and ocean acidification.
The ocean is also affected by the effects of human activity on its health and productivity. In particular, humans consume a large amount of marine resources (including seafood and shellfish), which are used for food, clothing, and fuels. The oceans are also affected by the pollutants emitted by human industry, which contribute to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
As a result of these factors, the ocean’s pH is steadily decreasing. This is called ocean acidification, and it is occurring more rapidly than in the past 20 million years. This is due to the rapid increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion and other human activities.