How does the global conveyor belt affect the climate?
The ocean circulation conveyor belt helps balance climate. As part of the ocean conveyor belt, warm water from the tropical Atlantic moves poleward near the surface where it gives up some of its heat to the atmosphere. This process partially moderates the cold temperatures at higher latitudes.
Ocean currents act much like a conveyer belt, transporting warm water and precipitation from the equator toward the poles and cold water from the poles back to the tropics. Thus, currents regulate global climate, helping to counteract the uneven distribution of solar radiation reaching Earth's surface.
- Large bodies of water such as oceans, seas, and large lakes affect the climate of an area. Water heats and cools more slowly than land. Therefore, in the summer, the coastal regions will stay cooler and in winter warmer. A more moderate climate with a smaller temperature range is created.
- Six basic types of air masses affect the weather of the British Isles. They can bring anything from tropical warm and humid days to arctic cold depending on the type of air mass. Fronts form the boundaries of air masses with differing properties.
- The difference between weather and climate is that weather consists of the short-term (minutes to months) changes in the atmosphere. Most people think of weather in terms of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, brightness, visibility, wind, and atmospheric pressure, as in high and low pressure.
Both El Niño and La Niña are opposite effects of the same phenomenon: the ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation). Both are an oscillation in the temperatures between the atmosphere and the ocean of the eastern equatorial Pacific region, roughly between the International Dateline and 120 degrees west (2).
- El Niño is the periodic warming of water in the Pacific Ocean every few years. When it occurs, it means more energy is available for storms to form there. El Niño also affects wind shear, which is when air currents at a lower altitude blow in a different direction from winds higher in the atmosphere.
- La Niña is a climate pattern that describes the cooling of surface ocean waters along the tropical west coast of South America. La Nina is considered to be the counterpart to El Nino, which is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean.
- La Niña is also sometimes called El Viejo, anti-El Niño, or simply "a cold event." La Niña episodes represent periods of below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific. Global climate La Niña impacts tend to be opposite those of El Niño impacts.
These deep-ocean currents are driven by differences in the water's density, which is controlled by temperature (thermo) and salinity (haline). This process is known as thermohaline circulation. In the Earth's polar regions ocean water gets very cold, forming sea ice.
- The currents flowing through the ocean, a process called thermohaline circulation, can have an impact on climate. Cold water, in general, is denser than warm water. Likewise, water with a high salinity is denser than water that contains less salt. Surface ocean currents are primarily driven by winds.
- For the considerably longer periods– decades to millennia – which are relevant for climate change, the significantly larger heat capacity of the deep ocean is important. Ocean currents and mixing by winds and waves can transport and redistribute heat to deeper ocean layers.
- Ocean circulation is the large scale movement of waters in the ocean basins. Winds drive surface circulation, and the cooling and sinking of waters in the polar regions drive deep circulation. Surface circulation carries the warm upper waters poleward from the tropics.
Updated: 3rd October 2019