A variety of factors, including rates of precipitation and evaporation, wind patterns, and the salinity of the water. One often overlooked factor in the temperature of oceans is dust blown into the water by dust storms. Every year, storms over West Africa disturb millions of tons of dust and strong winds carry those particles into the skies over the Atlantic. Scientists studying the dust storm in Sahara desert have discovered that the quantity of dust involved in the storms, about 500 million tonnes per year, is sufficient to affect the climate. By partly absorbing and partly reflecting sunlight, the dust particles heat the air but cool the ocean surface. They also encourage cloud formation, which reinforces the reflection of light back into space.
There are multiple reasons for the variation in ocean temperatures. One reason is because the majority of solar radiation that hits the ocean is absorbed in the first ten meters. Surface waters tend to be warmer because they receive more solar radiation. Waves and turbulence quickly mix these warmer temperatures downward. There is a boundary between the surface waters of the ocean and its deepest layers. This boundary is called the thermocline and usually occurs about 100 to 400 meters deep when temperatures begin to rapidly decline. 90 percent of the ocean’s volume is below the thermocline level. This means that the surface water temperature could be around 68 degrees Fahrenheit while temperatures below the thermocline generally are between 32 to 37.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
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