Both the circulation of the atmosphere and the oceans occur on a global scale. Major currents in the ocean carry huge amounts of heat from the equator to the poles. There are global ocean currents that circulate heat energy on the surface and at great depths, connecting the Earth's major oceans. One extremely important current moves in a winding, endless loop; scientists refer to its conveyor belt-like properties as the thermohaline circulation (THC). This current is significant to major parts of the world—it moves the warm salty Atlantic water that originates near the equator northward toward Greenland and Labrador, where it then cools and sinks. The current sinks more than one mile in very specific places, where it then flips around, heads south, and makes its way back through the Atlantic toward the equator again. From there, the water continues to move south, travels around the southern tip of Africa, and rises to the surface in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as well as areas near Antarctica. It then heads north toward the equator again, where it picks up heat, and repeats the cycle. With the loss of this current, western Europe's winters would get much colder.
The loss of this huge circulation system would have other unforeseen effects as well. Global warming must be approached as a global issue. It will take everyone working toward a solution to make a difference.
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