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Surface currents make up about ten percent of all of the ocean's water. These currents are represented by the top 400 meters of the ocean. The deeper water currents, Thermohaline circulation, make up the other ninety percent. These waters are driven by density and gravity forces, largely affected by different temperatures and salinity.
When oil is spilled in the ocean, it initially spreads in the water (primarily on the surface), depending on its relative density and composition. The oil slick formed may remain cohesive, or may break up in the case of rough seas. Waves, water currents, and wind force the oil slick to drift over large areas, impacting the open ocean, coastal areas, and marine and terrestrial habitats in the path of the drift. Read more: Oil Spills: Impact on the Ocean - sea, effects, temperature, percentage, important, largest, types, source, marine, oxygen, human www.waterencyclopedia.com...
The calming effect of oil on water has been known since ancient times. Benjamin Franklin was the first to investigate the effect, but the underlying mechanism for this striking phenomenon remains elusive.
Sailors who traditionally dumped barrels of oil into the sea to calm stormy waters may have been on to something, a new study suggests.
The most famous current is the Gulf Stream, which was discovered by Benjamin Franklin. The Gulf Stream starts in the Atlantic Ocean near the Equator. The steady winds near the Equator are always blowing partly from the east. They push the warm, salty water past the Caribbean islands into the great bay made by Florida and the east coast of the United States. The water piles up and then flows northward past Cape Hatteras. Here the Gulf Stream is narrow and flows swiftly. Its speed is several miles an hour.
Surface ocean currents are generally wind driven and develop their typical clockwise spirals in the northern hemisphere and counter-clockwise rotation in the southern hemisphere because of the imposed wind stresses. In wind driven currents, the Ekman spiral effect results in the currents flowing at an angle to the driving winds.
- Same wiki link from above.
These currents also affect temperatures throughout the world. For example, the current that brings warm water up the north Atlantic to northwest Europe stops ice from forming by the shores
If the Gulf Stream malfunctions, then Europe, deprived of its effects, will in turn lurch towards a new era of lower temperatures. In other words, winters in Lisbon may become as rigorous as those in New York.
Originally posted by snowspirit
Their reasons for spraying though are nothing to do with the way it will react with weather, they want to keep it under the water surface to hide from people how bad the spill really is.
The oil could have been skimmed off the top easier if they hadn't been spraying the dispersant.
edit to add
[edit on 6-7-2010 by snowspirit]