how ocean currents moderate climate

effect on global climate

Surface currents play an enormous role in Earths climate. Even though the Equator and poles have very different climates, these regions would have more extremely different climates if ocean currents did not transfer heat from the equatorial regions to the higher latitudes. The Gulf Stream is a river of warm water in the Atlantic Ocean, about 160 kilometers wide and about a kilometer deep. Water that enters the Gulf Stream is heated as it travels along the Equator. The warm water then flows up the east coast of North America and across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe (see opening image). The energy the Gulf Stream transfers is enormous: more than 100 times the worlds energy demand. The Gulf Streams warm waters raise temperatures in the North Sea, which raises the air temperatures over land between 3 to 6 C (5 to 11 F). London, U.K., for example, is at about six degrees further south than Quebec, Canada. However, Londons average January temperature is 3.8 C (38 F), while Quebecs is only -12 C (10 F). Because air traveling over the warm water in the Gulf Stream picks up a lot of water, London gets a lot of rain. In contrast, Quebec is much drier and receives its precipitation as snow. Quebec City, Quebec in winter. Click image to the left or use the URL below. URL:

textbook_image

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questions

this ocean current helps to moderate the temperature in europe.

-->  a) the gulf stream

b) the labrador current

c) el nino

d) the humboldt current

water in the gulf stream travels along the equator and is cooled as it goes.

a) true

-->  b) false

ocean currents transfer energy from the

a) northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere.

b) southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere.

-->  c) equatorial region to the polar regions.

d) polar regions to the equatorial region.

which of the following is not true about the gulf stream?

a) it is an enormous river of warm water.

b) it raises temperatures in the north sea and in the air over london.

c) it is easy to visualize from space in temperature readings.

-->  d) it has a large temperature affect on the eastern united states and canada.

the equator and poles would have even more different climates if it werent for surface ocean currents.

-->  a) true

b) false

quebec, canada and london, england have different climates because they are at different latitudes.

a) true

-->  b) false

the energy in the gulf stream could supply the world with energy 100-times over.

-->  a) true

b) false

what would happen to the climate of northern europe if the gulf stream stopped flowing?

a) it would remain the same.

-->  b) it would get much colder and would snow instead of rain.

c) it is impossible to know.

d) it would get much colder with more rain.

the gulf stream flows up the eastern u.s., but it has a much greater effect on the climate of northern europe. why?

a) the prevailing winds at those latitudes are from east to west.

b) when it gets to eurasia, it meets the north sea and mixes with that colder water.

-->  c) the prevailing winds at those latitudes are from west to east.

d) none of these.

london gets a lot of rain because

-->  a) the gulf stream warms the air above it so that it can hold more moisture, which it drops

b) the gulf stream mixes with the labrador current, which causes warm and cold air to mix and precipitate.

c) the warm air above the british isles is hit by the cold air of the north atlantic and causes there to be rain.

d) none of these.

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