February 14, 2024

Ocean Warrior Science #1

Ocean Warrior Science #1

Ocean Warrior - What we measure and Why #1

Temperature: Ocean temperature is a fundamental parameter that affects sea level, weather patterns, and marine life.

Measuring temperature in oceanography is critically important for several reasons:

Density and Circulation:

Temperature significantly affects the density of seawater, which in turn influences ocean currents and circulation patterns. Warm water is less dense and tends to rise, while cooler water is denser and sinks. This dynamic is a driving force behind the thermohaline circulation, also known as the global conveyor belt, which plays a critical role in regulating the Earth’s climate.

More on the global conveyor belt: AMOC stands for the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. It is a large system of ocean currents that carries warm, salty water from the tropics northwards into the North Atlantic, where the water cools and sinks before flowing back southwards at a deeper level.This circulation is a major component of the Earth's climate system and plays a key role in regulating weather patterns, sea surface temperatures, and climate.

The AMOC is part of the larger thermohaline circulation, which is driven by differences in water density, controlled by temperature (thermal) and salinity(haline), hence the name. The AMOC influences the climate by redistributing heat globally and affecting the carbon cycle. It is also responsible for the relatively mild climate of North-western Europe compared to other regions at similar latitudes.

There is significant scientific interest in the AMOC because of its potential vulnerability to the effects of climate change. There are concerns that global warming could slow down or disrupt this circulation pattern, which could lead to dramatic changes in climate, sea level rise, and a decrease in marine biodiversity in the Atlantic Ocean.


It is therefore critical we measure and monitor this.

Our Valeport Swift CDT measures Conductivity, Density and Temperature
Climate Change Indicators:

Long-term measurements of ocean temperature can indicate changes in the Earth's climate system. The ocean absorbs a large amount of the heat from global warming, and tracking temperature changes is vital for understanding how quickly this is happening.

Weather Patterns:

Sea surface temperatures affect weather and climate patterns, including the formation of tropical storms and hurricanes. Warmer waters can lead to more intense storm activity.

Marine Life:

Temperature influences the distribution and lifecycle of marine organisms. Many species are adapted to specific temperature ranges, and changes in temperature can impact breeding cycles, migration patterns, and habitat suitability.

Sea Level Rise:

As water warms, it expands. This thermal expansion contributes to sea level rise, which can lead to coastal erosion, flooding, and other challenges for coastal communities.

Chemical Reactions:

The rate of chemical reactions in the ocean, including those that affect the cycling of nutrients and gases, is temperature-dependent. Warmer temperatures can accelerate these reactions.

Ice Melt:

Ocean temperatures are crucial for understanding ice-ocean interactions, such as the melting of sea ice and ice shelves, which also contribute to sea level rise.

Ice melt on the eastern coast of Ellesmere Island, Canada
Ocean Productivity:

Temperature affects the rates of photosynthesis and respiration in the ocean, influencing primary productivity which is the foundation of the marine food web.

Image from "Current State and Trends in Canadian Arctic Marine Ecosystems II," by Darnis et al., in Climatic Change.

By monitoring ocean temperatures, scientists can gain insights into these and other processes that are vital to the health of marine ecosystems and the planet as a whole.

All part of Ocean Warrior's critical measuring, benchmarking, monitoring and reporting remit.