Activity 2 -
The Deep Circulation of the Ocean
Use the resources listed below to help you complete this activity.
To learn more about this topic, visit the following
Seawater Temperature, Salinity, and Density
Characteristics of the World's Oceans" - NASA Institute
on Climate and Planets
Site reviews the general characteristics of the oceans, including
temperature and salinity. Click on link at bottom of page to advance.
Site contains several full-color images.
Water Masses in the Ocean
Using flotsam to study ocean currents - NASA
This article contains information regarding the spill of shoes
and rubber duckies in the Pacific that students investigate in
Activity 3, specifically how the spill led to a greater understanding
of ocean circulation patterns.
advances in understanding of the general circulation of the Pacific
Ocean, with emphasis on recent U.S. contributions" -
Talley, L. D., 1995, Rev. Geophys. Vol. 33, Suppl., AGU
Online article is divided into sections, including a general background
review of Pacific circulation, a review of the observational basis
for conclusions on Pacific circulation, and an examination of
the techniques used to study circulation.
What Causes Deep Ocean Circulation?
time scales, and the thermohaline circulation: The lower limb
in the North Atlantic Ocean" - Fine, R.A., 1995, Rev.
Geophys., Vol. 33 Suppl., AGU
This online papers introduces the concept of thermohaline circulation
and how it relates to climate. The second and third sections of
the paper are a bit more technical, reviewing research techniques
for tracing water masses in the ocean.
To complete the investigation, each student
group will need:
- Water source
- Balance scale (to weigh the salt)
- Transparent plastic shoebox
- 1 liter beaker (to measure water)
- Food coloring (red and blue)
- Copies of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean cross sections (one
for each student)
- To generate additional maps of vector winds (as shown in the
student text), visit the NOAA
Climate Diagnostics Center web site. The maps in the student
text were generated by selecting "Vector Wind" as the
variable, Analysis level of 1000 mb, the same beginning and ending
month (in this case, November), one year (1997 or 2000), in color
and shaded, Plot type of "mean", no contour intervals,
Custom map projection, latitudes from -50 to 50, longitudes from
90 to 300, and Cylindrical Equidistant projection. To generate
additional maps, try varying the months and years, or the variables
that you plot.
To learn more about how volcanic eruptions at divergent boundaries
affect deep ocean currents, visit the following web sites:
Volcanoes" - Volcano World
Reviews the basics of plate tectonics and examines closely submarine
volcanoes at divergent and convergent boundaries and hot spots.
The site has good images of underwater lava flows as well as images
of the organisms that live near these submarine volcanoes.
Volcanoes, Ridges, and Vents" - USGS Cascades Volcano
Site includes a general overview of submarine volcanic eruptions
as well as information about specific underwater volcanoes including
the volcanoes of the Juan de Fuca ridge in the Pacific, Kavachi
of the Solomon Islands, Kick 'Em Jenny of the West Indies, the
Loihi Seamount of Hawaii, and Surtsey and the Vestmannmaeyjar
volcanics of Iceland.
To learn more about how atmospheric circulation
affects deep ocean circulation, visit the following web sites:
Wind Fields Over the Oceans" - NASA's Earth Observing
This site includes a color image showing the wind patterns over
the Pacific and explains how wind patterns form and are documented
To learn more about how the rotation of the
Earth affects deep ocean circulation, visit the following web site:
and the Earth's Rotation" - NASA Global Geophysical Fluids
To learn more about how the biosphere is affected
by deep ocean circulation, visit the following web sites:
the deep ocean floor: Hot springs and strange creatures"
Online article takes a look at some of the organisms which live
on the ocean floor. Includes color photos.
and Discover: Expeditions to the Seafloor
Expedition 2 in particular has some information about life at
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Last updated: May 11, 2010
project is supported, in part, by the National
Science Foundation and the AGI
Foundation. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily
those of the Foundation.