We can discuss 2 different parts of what the
sun does for the ocean-- biological and physical.
First, the sun provides the energy for lots of
organisms that live in the ocean. The food
chain starts with algae that live near the surface
of the ocean that get their energy by
photosynthesizing (like plants, they live on
energy from the sun instead of eating). If the sun
didn't provide this energy then the algae would
die. Then all of the organisms that eat the algae
would die, and the things that eat that would die,
until the whole food chain dies.
The second thing that the sun gives to the
oceans is heat. Do you know how heat
rises? (this is why the basement of the house
is much colder than the attic of a house) -- we
call this convection. At the equator where
it is very warm from the sun, the ocean is very
warm. At the poles the weather is much colder and
so the ocean is also much colder. This difference
in temperature makes warm water from the equator
flow to the north and south poles. This creates
ocean currents, driven by the heating of the ocean
at the equator. These currents need the heat of
the sun to drive them. Without these currents,
there wouldn't be nutrient mixing in the oceans.
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