COOL Classroom 2.1

Discover Upwelling

Have you ever visited the beach on a hot summer day only to find that the ocean water feels freezing cold? No, it’s not because of a passing iceberg, and it’s usually not because of a “storm out there.” Scientists at Rutgers University have discovered it’s because of wind coming from the southwest. The ocean has layers of water temperatures, and the water near the top (where we swim) is the warmest. When wind blows the warm layers out to sea, guess what rises up to take its place? Cold layers from the bottom! Depending on the wind, water temperatures in the 50s can replace water temperatures in the 70s in just hours – and suddenly you’re shivering.

Why winds from the southwest? It’s because the ocean movement gets an extra spin from the rotation of the Earth.