Where the Water Goes
1.  Introduction
Combining Surface Circulation with Deep Circulation - The Global Conveyor Belt


Expedition Menu

1. Conveyor Belt

2. Influence

3. Tracking
4. Let's Ride

5. Mischief in N-G Sea

6. South Atlantic

7. Indian Ocean

8. South Pacific

9. North Pacific

10. Through Indonesia

11. Across Indian

12. Atlantic Return
13. CO2 storage
14. New ideas
15. Science




Don's Introduction
Download Expedition Worksheet if you need it

Objective: Learn about the connection between deep circulation in the ocean and the surface circulation and how both influence long-term climate change

Climate change over the course of millennia, centuries, even decades, is influenced the flow of deep water in the ocean.
Remember during a previous expedition we called the flow of deep water, thermohaline circulation.
The name itself, provides a clue to the driving force behind this circulation,
thermo => temperature
haline  => salinity
temperature + salinity = density
Both of these properties control the density of seawater.
So thermohaline circulation is driven by the density of the water, or better said, the Earth's gravitational field. In other words, either cold or salty water has a high density and therefore sinks to the bottom of the sea. So thermohaline circulation is largely driven by the sinking of water, especially very cold water from the polar regions, but as we will see, sometimes this water rises, such as in the Pacific, thereby creating an endless cycle or conveyor belt of circulation.
conveyor_belt.JPG (43213 bytes) 

What is the importance of the global conveyor belt?

Last Updated on
November 6, 2006
Send to Don Reed
Department of Geology
San Josť State University