About 70% of our earth’s surface is watery or is under cover extended by oceans and ocean plays a crucial part in maintaining our environment. Among many of the varied roles, one is that it soaks energy (heat) and thereby helps in its dispensing across the earth evenly. Besides, ocean also absorbs CO2 present on and polluting our earth.
What is the importance of oceans for humans or why is it critical for human survival on earth?
Even though, we reside on land but still, our surrounding world is a mega water bubble as mentioned above, around 70%. Besides, calculating the average depth, it comes out to be about 2.7 miles while in certain location, it is held to be even deeper than towering mountains and about 97% of all the water present on earth, is borne by our ocean.
Now, it shouldn’t be too much startling to decipher that ocean’s role is paramount in events taking place in our environmental, including absorbing energy (heat) and in its eventual equal distribution and CO2 .
For this, let’s bring in a connection between climate change and a water balloon. Please watch the video below.
From atmosphere, ocean picks up heat and accomplishes an amazing task. Within an ocean, a handful of meters measuring from top stores much of the heat as Earth’s whole atmosphere. Now, as planet warmth increases, oceans draw much of the energy.
However, in case of excessive warmth, plants and animals inside, need to adapt else, they perish.
Plankton teems with a distinct variety of small animals and plants, including bacteria, that just slip along, in the ocean. As a matter of factly, Algae and plankton constitute the very base of the food chain. Certain animals like Krill, feast upon plankton. Now, for krill, they become food to whales and seals. Worringly but, krill strength has fallen miserably in past some years, by over 80%. The reason being that krill prefer cold water dispersed closer to sea ice and if sea ice disappears, we can consider the worst of scenarios.
Likewise, no prizes to guess the situation, when the number of krill and plankton shrink. You guessed it right, the entire food web would be disrupted for the worst.
Going deeper, we find coral to be another watery being facing heat. Such is a very delicate creature that makes a shell around itself. It subsists with other types of coloured algae in peace. The algae uses sunlight in making food, the process is called photosynthesis.
The food, like friendly neighbours, is shared with coral while coral renders safe and sunny place to algae to live.
These two manage the clean habitat at shallow waters superbly together, where the Sun shines dazzlingly. Then, coral is preferred by fish too as the latter find it as suitable plaes to hide in.
But when the water get warm, photosynthesis can hardly be pursued by algae, resulting in algae’s abrupt end. Though scientists continue to put efforts to uncover the actual truth but such isn’t healthy for algae, coral as well as for fish. Disruption in photosynthesis can also cause corals to become weak as they lose their crucial food sources. Such a unwarranted event is called coral bleaching and sadly this continues on a wide scale at various locations across the world.
Just like humans and animals on land, fish and sea animals inhale oxygen, outputting carbon dioxide and likewise, plants in sea consume CO2 and give oxygen. Now, nature has designed ocean amazingly, as it sucks a large amount of CO2 present in air, in fact 25% of it, that we humans reflect by burning fossil fuels, i.e. oil, coal and natural gas. In case, oceans were not there, human survival would have been in deep trouble as of now.
But the oceans and its constituents bear the brunt and it is turning into an acidic form.
What does this signify ? Earth Liquids become acidic or alkaline.
But, when CO2 is absorbed by the ocean in a large quantity, water turns more acidic. Now, for keeping a precise balance critical for animal survival, ocean alkalinity is of immense importance, as protective shells are made. If water gets more acidic, robust shells wouldn’t possibly be made by animals to live in. Such an event can also upset corals, as their skeletons are developed with similar matter that is like shell.
In locations such as Europe, ocean does cast a great impact upon our climate as heat is transported to the north in the Atlantic Ocean by it. While in the up north, cold water declines deeper and is dispersed across the world, which is then replaced by warm water present near the surface which floats to north then. Scientists term the event as Great Ocean Conveyor Belt and heat transferred to north thereby, is useful in keeping the Atlantic ocean warmer during winter times which also spreads warmth in neighbouring countries also.
What does the salt present in the ocean do?
Ocean water contains salt which also affects currents and water with more salt is heavier than the one containing less water. When the freezing of salty water takes place, ice is unable to hold onto the salt but the sale blends with water below resulting in making it saltier and heavier. Glaciers, land ice and icebergs are developed by fresh water and now, you should be quick to think about the outcome of ice melting.
The North Atlantic water sinks because of its coldness and saltiness and it is thus really heavy and can sink very deep below. But if North Atlantic comprises of too much ice, it can bring down the content of salt in the water.
Now, if this happens, what would the Ocean Conveyor Belt do? Would the North Atlantic be stopped from getting warmed by it? Could it turn Europe into a colder place? To scientists, such is highly unlikely, but NASA satellites are always active monitoring melting ice and also study ocean currents to fathom such complicated framework in best possible way.
Dear readers, please stay tuned for more insights on this, in the upcoming write-ups.