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Thermohaline Circulation

Science
by Ian Tramble on 11 May 2011

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Transcript of Thermohaline Circulation

Thermohaline Circulation Thermo- Temperature Haline- Salinity - - + Therefore, cold saline water will move below a mass of warm water with a low salt content Water Molecule Cold Water is denser than warm water Because the water molecules are packed more closely together Water with a high salt content is more dense that water with a low salt content Cold water sinks rapidly and pushes warmer water upwards Properties of Water Cold, polar water in the North Atlantic Warm, tropical water in the Indian Ocean The density differences of water masses as a result of salinity and temperature are the driving forces behind thermohaline circulation The path of thermohaline circulation That drive thermohaline circulation The concept of thermohaline circulation This creates a convection current Path of Thermohaline Circulation Warm water from the Gulf Current cools rapidly and sinks to the bottom of the ocean The Drake Passage blocks the flow of water westward into the Pacific, and it continues east along the cooast of Antarctica The cold polar water eventually mixes with warm Pacific waters and rises to the surface of the ocean Water travels westward rough the Indian Ocan Like rivers, underground currents travel along submarine valleys towards the deepest part of the ocean The circulation process involves over one third of the Earth's oceans Thermo- Temperature Haline- Salinity Thermohaline circulation and global warming Global Warming and Thermohaline Circulation So proportionally, global warming affects polar waters more than the tropics Global Warming: increase in the earth's temperature as a result of greenhouse gas emissions (anthropogenic) Global warming could lead to an increase in temperature in the Arctic waters Water in the Arctic becomes less dense and the process of thermohaline circulation slows, perhaps even stopping "Low probability high consequence scenario" How does thermohaline affect the world How does thermohaline circulation affect the world? • Absent any climate policy, scientists have found a 70 percent chance of shutting down the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean over the next 200 years, with a 45 percent probability of this occurring in this century. Ocean convection also carries large amounts of CO2 to the bottom of the ocean Change in annual temperature 30 years after a collapse of the thermohaline circulation An anoxic deep ocean would be detrimental to the marine ecosytem Further warming would intensify the planet's hydrologic cycle, resulting in increased precipitation and increased fresh water runoff in the North Atlantic CO2 buried in the ocean may be released in the future
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