BLOG: Why is the ocean warmer on the east coast? - | WBTV Charlotte

BLOG: Why is the ocean warmer on the east coast?

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

I was at a school visit the other day and we talked about something interesting that some adults may not realize. Did you know the ocean along the east coast of the US is warmer than the ocean along the west coast of the US?

It’s true! There are large scale ocean currents that move water around in the oceans. In the northern hemisphere, they flow in a clockwise direction. In the southern hemisphere, they flow counterclockwise direction. If that’s confusing, look at the map. The cold currents are in blue. They flow from the polar regions toward the equator.

They bring cold polar water with them. See the direction of the water off the US west coast? It’s called the California Current. If you went swimming on a beach on the west coast, the ocean water would be much cooler than on one of our Carolina beaches.

Along the east coast of the US, warmer water from the equatorial region flows north toward the poles. It’s called the Gulf Stream. (Yep! The same one that’s mentioned in the song “This Land is Your Land).

That’s why the ocean water feels so nice in the summer on our North and South Carolina beaches. Warm water that originates closer to the equator surges north and brings us very pleasant beach days in the summer.

It works the same way across the Atlantic Ocean. A location at a specific latitude along the west coast of Europe would be much cooler than a city at the same latitude along the east coast of the US since they are also affected by the cool current on the west coast of Europe.

Maybe I’m also thinking about the beach with this nice weather we’ve been having… I’m ready for summer! Who’s with me?

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