How does the ocean conveyor belt affect us?

The ocean circulation conveyor belt helps balance climate. As part of the ocean conveyor belt, warm water from the tropical Atlantic moves poleward near the surface where it gives up some of its heat to the atmosphere. This process partially moderates the cold temperatures at higher latitudes.
A.

How long does it take for the great ocean conveyor belt to complete one cycle?

The blue arrows indicate the path of deep, cold, dense water currents. The red arrows indicate the path of warmer, less dense surface waters. It is estimated that it can take 1,000 years for a "parcel" of water to complete the journey along the global conveyor belt.
  • What fuels the ocean conveyor?

    The ocean is not a still body of water. There is constant motion in the ocean in the form of a global ocean conveyor belt. This motion is caused by a combination of thermohaline currents (thermo = temperature; haline = salinity) in the deep ocean and wind-driven currents on the surface.
  • Why is the great ocean conveyor belt important to Western Europe?

    The conveyor belt transfers warm water from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic as a shallow current and returns cold water from the Atlantic to the Pacific as a deep current that flows further south. As it passes Europe, the surface water evaporates and the ocean water cools, releasing heat to the atmosphere.
  • What drives deep ocean currents?

    Winds drive ocean currents in the upper 100 meters of the ocean's surface. These deep-ocean currents are driven by differences in the water's density, which is controlled by temperature (thermo) and salinity (haline). This process is known as thermohaline circulation.
B.

What is the thermohaline conveyor belt?

A process known as thermohaline circulation, or the ocean conveyor belt, drives these deep underwater currents. Thermohaline Circulation. Thermohaline circulation moves a massive current of water around the globe, from northern oceans to southern oceans, and back again.
  • Why is the great ocean conveyor belt important to Western Europe?

    The conveyor belt transfers warm water from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic as a shallow current and returns cold water from the Atlantic to the Pacific as a deep current that flows further south. As it passes Europe, the surface water evaporates and the ocean water cools, releasing heat to the atmosphere.
  • What is the main cause of ocean currents?

    Ocean currents can be generated by wind, density differences in water masses caused by temperature and salinity variations, gravity, and events such as earthquakes. Currents are cohesive streams of seawater that circulate through the ocean.
  • What is the thermohaline circulation belt?

    These deep-ocean currents are driven by differences in the water's density, which is controlled by temperature (thermo) and salinity (haline). This process is known as thermohaline circulation. In the Earth's polar regions ocean water gets very cold, forming sea ice.

Updated: 4th December 2019

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