Perpetual Ocean

It’s pretty easy to see how often the weather can change, between local weather forecasts constantly being updated to stepping outside on a fall day here in Louisiana, where the temperature can easily change from a crisp morning to a hot and humid afternoon. The atmosphere is constantly changing right over our heads, but what fewer people know is that the ocean is just as active. This changing ocean influences the changing weather. Perpetual Ocean is a video that shows just how elaborate these constant changes in the ocean can be.

From the video one can see that the ocean is constantly evolving. The swirls in the video represent currents and eddies moving around the ocean. The larger currents carry heat and salt with them and in return have a great effect on weather and climate. Those smaller loops swirling in the video represent pockets of warmer or colder water called eddies. They move throughout the ocean and can greatly impact certain weather events as the temperature of the ocean changes. For instance, the strength of hurricanes is greatly affected by the temperature of the ocean over which they pass.

On a larger scale, the circulation of the ocean has major effects on climate all across the globe. One of most prominent of these effects is a part of what’s known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation. An El Niño event occurs when warmer waters move eastward along the equator in the Pacific Ocean. These warmer waters greatly affect evaporation of water from the ocean to the atmosphere and cause rainfall to be higher or lower than normal for different parts of the world.

So while we may not see how constantly changing the ocean is on a day-to-day basis, it has a bigger impact than we think.

            This video was created by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD by visualizing scientific data from observations and the results from computer models developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

NASA Scientific Visualization Studio
NOAA Ocean Explorer
NOAA Ocean Service

By David Fertitta


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