The Earth's Largest BiomeThe marine biome covers approximately 71 percent of the Earth's surface. Taking into account the vast size of this biome, its effects on other terrestrial biomes shouldn't really come as a surprise for us.
Have you ever thought how the climate of an entity as vast as the ocean biome will be? The desert biome is often characterized by arid climate; the tundra biome by harsh cold. What about the marine biome? Does it even have a climatic classification? Interestingly, climate happens to be one of the most important attributes of the marine biome, which isn't really surprising, considering that it has a crucial role to play in determining the climate of other terrestrial biomes on our planet.
Marine Biome: An Overview
The marine biome is largely made up of the world's five oceans: the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and the Southern Ocean. Besides these oceans, it also has gulfs, bays, and estuaries to its credit. The characteristic trait of this biome is its salinity, which differentiates it from the other aquatic biome on the Earth―the freshwater biome.
As with various other ecosystems on the planet, even the marine ecosystem is characterized by presence of various plants and animals. The number of marine plants and animals lies in the range of millions. Add to it the number of lifeforms that are indirectly dependent on it―including us humans―and it will cross the billion mark with immense ease.
Marine Biome Climate
Many people use the terms climate and weather synonymously, which is technically incorrect. In geography, the term 'weather' refers to the atmospheric conditions prevailing at a particular place over a stipulated period―usually a day. These include various attributes of nature; namely temperature, precipitation, wind, sunlight, etc. On the other hand, the term 'climate' refers to the aggregate of weather conditions prevailing in the said place over a longer duration―a whole year for instance.
While the average temperature of the marine biome is 39 ºF, you will see a great deal of variation in the same owing to its vast size. The temperature is highest at the equator, where the water body is subjected to direct sunlight that can penetrate deep into the water. (It's worth noting that sunlight can only penetrate up to a depth of around 200 m.) As you head towards poles, the temperature starts dropping and eventually reaches the freezing point in the polar areas. Other than the absence of sunlight for half the time of the year, the presence of icebergs in water is also responsible for the water in polar areas being freezing cold.
Additionally, the temperature of the marine biome also changes with depth. As you descend into the dark depths of the ocean―from 100 to 1000 m in particular, you will notice a drastic drop in the temperature. After a depth of 1,500 m or so, the temperature is constant; unless there is some external force acting upon it.
At the surface level, ocean currents play a crucial role in various meteorological processes on the planet, including the formation of hurricanes, but their role is far more complex than what it seems. Among other things, ocean currents are responsible for the year-round climate prevailing on the planet.
While temperature and sunlight have a direct role to play in the climatic conditions of the marine biome, wind and precipitation play an indirect role in the same―crucial nevertheless. While wind is responsible for the formation of waves and hurricanes, precipitation has an integral part to play in the Earth's hydrological cycle.
Why do We Need to be Concerned?When we say that we need to be more concerned about the climate of the marine biome, there is a reason for it. Basically, marine plants and animals have adapted to the climatic conditions prevailing in this biome, and therefore, the climate plays a relatively less important role in their life. Not that they are not affected, but they have adapted to the conditions. Some of these species, for instance, can even survive at depths where there is minimal or no sunlight penetration at all.
In our case, however, things are different. The marine climate has a great influence on terrestrial climate, which is evident from the fact that it's the large-scale evaporation of water from oceans that fuels precipitation in various terrestrial biomes. If things go wrong in the marine biome, it wouldn't be surprising to find ourselves at the receiving end.
Despite being far removed from various terrestrial biomes for the most part, the marine biome is not safe from human interference. At the rate at which we have been turning various oceans into virtual garbage dumps, sooner or later we are bound to spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e for marine organisms and d-e-a-t-h k-n-e-l-l for ourselves.