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Oceanic circulation

The current climate change debate also explores the impact that oceans and seas may have on climate change. For example, the jury is out on whether abrupt future changes in ocean currents can cause fundamental changes to the climate like what happened in the past, when ice sheets melted over North America and Europe in the ice age.

These questions are important as oceans and seas are key elements in the world's climate system. They have the capacity to carry a large amount of heat that can radically affect global climatic conditions. On the other hand, the increase in greenhouse gases especially carbon dioxide also have an impact on seas and oceans. Recent studies show that the increased levels in atmospheric carbon dioxide are "causing the world's oceans to become more acidic." The IPCC has called for further study on the oceanic circulation as a major component of the climatic system. Leading scientific institutions on oceanography such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) are currently conducting research on "How the ocean works in the earth's changing climate system." Visit the Related Links for further information.

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