OLP 4: The ocean makes Earth habitable

Representative Image


Image caption

Fig. 1. OLP 4. Tubeworms, anemones, and mussels colonize near a low-temperature hydrothermal vent. Early life forms on earth may have evolved near hydrothermal vents like this one 3.5 billion years ago.

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Image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ocean Explorer

Life started in the ocean. The millions of different species of organisms on Earth today are related by descent from common ancestors that evolved in the ocean (Fig. 1). The accumulation of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere through photosynthesis was necessary for life to develop and be sustained on land.



The ocean provided, and continues to provide, water, oxygen, and nutrients and moderates the climate needed for life to exist on Earth.

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Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawai?i, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.