The ocean covers more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface and contains 97% of our planet’s water. It is a crucial resource for life, but it also faces significant challenges from pollution and climate change.
The Ocean is a complex ecosystem comprised of diverse living organisms, abiotic processes and geological features that are constantly changing. It also plays a vital role in the global economy, supporting a wide range of industries that include food and medicine, tourism and fishing.
From seaweeds to whales and fish, marine life is vast and diverse. This diversity makes it an essential component of the world’s ecosystems, which provide vital services like clean water and oxygen.
Despite its size, the ocean is finite; it has limits. Scientists are learning about these limits and exploring ways to mitigate these impacts.
Understanding how the ocean moves is a key to forecasting weather and climate conditions. It is also essential for human health and well-being, with the sounds of waves being shown to have a positive effect on mental wellbeing.
1. The Coriolis effect:
One of the most fascinating aspects of the ocean is its rotation, which affects weather and ocean currents around the world. The Coriolis effect causes storms to swirl clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, and it creates a current pattern called the Ekman spiral that is found at all depths.
2. The global conveyor belt:
Another incredible feature of the ocean is its ‘conveyor belt’, which moves water three dimensionally throughout the world’s major ocean basins. These ocean currents are driven by forces such as wind, the Coriolis effect and temperature and salinity differences.
3. The acidification of the ocean:
The carbon dioxide that is emitted from fossil fuels is slowly depleting the ocean’s alkalinity. This is a negative impact on the environment, as it can lead to an acidification of the ocean’s water, making it more difficult for some plants and animals to survive.
4. The ‘Sunlight Zone’:
At the surface, the sun shines through the surface of the ocean and provides a large amount of energy for photosynthesis by algae. However, at deeper depths in the ocean, sunlight is not strong enough to allow plants to thrive. Consequently, the sunlight that does reach these areas is used by light-producing animals like corals to power photosynthesis.
5. The ‘Twilight Zone’:
In contrast to the ‘Sunlight Zone,’ the ‘Twilight Zone’ is deep and dark. This is where most animals live and where the water is not warm enough for plant growth.
6. The ‘Midnight Zone’:
The Midnight Zone is located below the ocean’s surface and is very cold. This is where many invertebrates live, including molluscs and worms. These are the bottom rungs of the ocean’s food chain and are eaten by other animals as part of their diet.