The abiotic, or non-living, factors influencing the world’s oceans include temperature, sunlight, wind and dissolved minerals. These factors contrast with biotic factors, such as fish, plankton and dolphins. Both biotic and abiotic factors affect local ecosystems, but the biotic factors are often determined first by the abiotic factors.
Each summer, the plankton population in the Arctic Ocean grows to its highest levels. This primarily occurs because the melting ice, which is caused by the abiotic factor of temperature, carries numerous minerals with it as it flows into the ocean. This abundance of plankton attracts whales and fish, which often make yearly migrations to these northern areas. These fish and whales benefit from the plankton, and when they return south, predators, who benefit from the abundant minerals, eat the whales and fish.
Another example of an abiotic factor is pollution. Pollution can take many forms, including dangerous chemicals, such as petroleum, trash and agricultural runoff. Additionally, thermal pollution may occur when hot water from factories and power plants is discharged into the water. This causes a rise in the local water temperature, which impacts the plants and animals living in the area. If the animals cannot adapt to the warm temperatures, they are likely to move away or die out.