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Part of the Climate Change exhibition.
Unlike the atmosphere, the ocean can absorb and release an enormous amount of heat with little change in temperature. As such, the ocean has an enormous impact on Earth's climate, absorbing warmth from the atmosphere during summer and releasing it back during winter.
Within the ocean, rivers of water of different temperatures and salinities move heat around the globe.
Fast-moving boundary currents move tremendous amounts of water and heat around the globe. For instance, the Gulf Stream, seen in this false-color image showing water temperatures, is more than 60 miles wide in many places, has an average depth of over 900 meters (about 3,000 feet) and moves as fast as 9 kilometers (nearly 6 miles) per hour.
Ocean waters absorb heat during the summer and release it during winter, reducing temperature differences between winter and summer and, in a similar way, between day and night. Away from the oceans, many landlocked areas, such as inland Siberia, experience seasonal temperature swings of over 55°C (about 100°F). By comparison, most of western Europe, which borders the ocean, has much milder winters and summers.