Sunday, January 27, 2013

1/27/2013 The Strait of Florida and the Gulf Stream

To travel to San Juan from New Orleans we pass through the Florida straits which is a channel between Florida and the Bahamas. The Florida straights are home to an open-ocean current called the Florida Current. The Florida current can be considered the "official" beginning of the Gulf Stream System.
 An ocean current is like a river in the ocean: water is flowing – traveling – from place to place. Modern ships are powerful enough to go against most ocean currents, but doing so costs time and fuel (e.g., oil = money), so knowledge of ocean currents is  very important. In addition, ocean currents are studied because they carry things in the water from place to place in the ocean, like ocean pollution.Ocean currents also carry warm and cold water from place to place, and can have a significant impact on a region’s climate. Not only do they transport organisms – particularly their larvae (babies who are plankton) – from place to place, but they also can bring up nutrients from deep in the ocean.

The first major ocean current to be measured and charted was the Gulf Stream, the northward-flowing, warm current off the east coast of the United States. As we noted earlier, a current is like a river (a stream) and it comes from the Gulf of Mexico, hence the name “Gulf Stream.” Benjamin Franklin was the first person to accurately measure the Gulf Stream. He could tell whether his ship was in it or not, because the waters of the Gulf Stream are unusually warm because they come from the Equator where the water is warm. As a result of his work produced the first accurate map of the Gulf Stream, which helped ships cross the ocean much faster in both directions.

Warm currents typically warm the air above them, and cold currents typically cool the air above them. In addition, warm water evaporates more easily than cold water, United States is more humid and gets more rain than the southwest coast of the United States, because they live next to the warm Gulf Stream If you look at a map of the world, you may notice that Boston,Massachusetts, is at the same latitude as Spain (In other words, both places are the same distance from the Equator.). However, they clearly do not have the same climate:as the Pilgrims could tell you, Massachusetts is colder than Spain. Similarly, England is at the same latitude as Northern Canada. (England is a lot warmer than Northern Canada.) These differences in climate are related to the ocean currents. Florida is surrounded by the warm water of the Gulf on one side and the Gulf Stream on the other, making it very warm and humid.This warm water and the Gulf Stream also help fuel hurricanes, keeping them powerful and sometimes even giving them a boost before they strike land.
Learn more about different types of currents
Here is more about the Gulf Stream

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