While discussing the temperature distribution of ocean water, highlight the factors responsible for it.

The specific heat capacity of water is higher than that of land. Combined with the convection in large ocean masses, it results in slower heating and cooling of ocean water than surrounding land.

Temperature distribution:

  • Latitude wise – waters near the tropics are the warmest, with decreasing temperatures at poles and equator both.
  • Vertical distribution – The temperature of ocean water at surface is higher. Thermocline is the region of sharp drop in temperature.

Factors affecting the temperature distribution in oceans:

  • Latitudes – decreasing insolation towards the poles.
  • Distribution of land – northern hemisphere has more land hence more heat is absorbed, so higher average temperatures than southern hemisphere.
  • Wind – offshore breeze causes upwelling and decline in temperature, close to coast. Onshore winds lead to increase in temperature at coast.
  • Ocean currents – warm currents increase the temperature while cold currents decrease it.

Configuration – Open oceans are cooler because of continuous mixing of river waters, polar waters, while enclosed seas like Mediterranean are warmer because of less mixing.


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