Ocean is the largest of Earth’s water ecosystems. It influences weather and temperature, provides oxygen and food for animals and plants, and supports a diverse array of life. It is also a powerful carbon sink, storing more than 4 billion tons of the Earth’s most potent greenhouse gas, CO2, in its deepest zones.
The ocean’s vast size makes it an intriguing subject for science and exploration. For centuries, people have relied on the sea for transportation, food and other resources, and they continue to use it today.
While there is still much to discover, oceanographers have already made a wide variety of discoveries. For example, they have learned that the ocean floor is home to towering mountain ranges and deep canyons, called trenches, just like those found on land. They have discovered that ocean waves travel across ocean basins, bringing energy and nutrients to distant places. And they have discovered that ocean currents transport heat from the tropics to the poles and back again, as well as carrying nutrient-rich water up from the depths.
From the earliest times, humans have been fascinated by the sea. They have been drawn to its shores for recreation and to make use of its natural resources, including fish, salt, and coal. They have charted its depths, studied its waves and currents, and explored its canyons and islands. The ocean is home to a huge diversity of plant and animal life, and its spectacular beauty has inspired artists and poets.
The world’s oceans are constantly in motion. The ebb and flow of tides is one of the most obvious planetary processes, but there are many other forces at work as well. The movement of the continents, plate tectonics, and wind and solar radiation all affect the ocean’s surface. Deeper, the water is influenced by gravity, density, and other forces.
Ocean currents are partly caused by the rotation of the planet, known as the Coriolis effect. This causes large systems, such as winds and ocean currents, that would move in a straight line to veer to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere. The Coriolis effect helps to explain why ocean temperatures tend to be warmer near the equator and cooler near the poles.
Ocean pollution is a serious problem that includes chemical contamination and trash. This type of pollution can be a result of point source pollution (such as waste from factories and cars) or nonpoint source pollution, which is the accumulation of pollutants that cannot be traced to a specific location. If you are interested in protecting the ocean, start by reducing your own point and nonpoint sources of pollution. Also, consider donating to an organization that fights ocean pollution like Ocean Blue Project. It is important to remember that every little action helps! If we all do a little, together we can do a lot. Thanks!