The dramatic sight of Atlantic waves crashing onto UK shores from the vast, surging ocean illustrates perfectly the joke behind its nickname of 'The Pond'.
Such an impressive natural strength demonstrates the physical threat which these mighty waters can pose to coastal communities in the UK and the U.S..
Power - Oceans - Kinds - Climate - Weather
What it doesn't show is the hidden power of oceans to cause the kinds of climate and weather changes that help to create such stormy seas in the first place. Ocean currents act like a global conveyor belt, continually carrying heat from the sun between the equator and the frozen poles. Water sinks from the surface to the deep as it cools down, before rising again as it warms up in an ongoing cycle.
This movement through the seas, dubbed overturning, combines with heat moved through the air by the weather to influence atmospheric temperature, rainfall and wind. Water takes much longer to heat up and cool down than the air, so knowing the condition of the ocean now can help to forecast the climate in years to come.
Nature - Water - Movement - Atlantic - Ocean
The exact nature of the water's movement in the Atlantic Ocean is unknown, however. Until now it has been impossible to test the various theories put forward by scientists, as that would involve setting up a major experiment in the middle of an ocean.
Now climate scientists have been able to do just that thanks to NERC research ships. Vessels including the RRS Discovery have allowed experts to voyage across the North Atlantic to moor specialist instruments from the seabed recording crucial data on factors including temperature and current speeds.
Project - Overturning - Subpolar - North - Atlantic
The project, known as the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Programme, or OSNAP, is a global collaboration aimed at providing evidence to guide action to combat the impact of climate change on future generations.
The pioneering study began...
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