Where is the global conveyor belt?

Thermohaline circulation drives a global-scale system of currents called the “global conveyor belt.” The conveyor belt begins on the surface of the ocean near the pole in the North Atlantic. Here, the water is chilled by arctic temperatures.
A.

How could a change in salinity affect the global conveyor belt?

Water cycles from surface currents to deepwater currents then back to the surface again in what scientists liken to a giant conveyor belt. Temperature and salinity independently affect water's density. The colder and saltier the water, the denser it becomes. As water becomes denser, it sinks.
  • 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 most common source of energy for surface ocean waves?

    There are a few types of ocean waves and they are generally classified by the energy source that creates them. Most common are surface waves, caused by wind blowing along the air-water interface, creating a disturbance that steadily builds as wind continues to blow and the wave crest rises.
  • What is the major cause of surface currents?

    Surface currents are generated largely by wind. Their patterns are determined by wind direction, Coriolis forces from the Earth's rotation, and the position of landforms that interact with the currents. Currents may also be generated by density differences in water masses caused by temperature and salinity variations.
B.

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.
  • 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.
  • How does climate change affect the biodiversity of a region?

    Healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity are fundamental to life on our planet. Climate change is affecting the habitats of several species, which must either adapt or migrate to areas with more favourable conditions. Even small changes in average temperatures can have a significant effect upon ecosystems.
  • What is the difference between weather and climate?

    The difference between weather and climate is that weather consists of the short-term (minutes to months) changes in the atmosphere. Most people think of weather in terms of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, brightness, visibility, wind, and atmospheric pressure, as in high and low pressure.
C.

What does the thermohaline current do?

Thermohaline circulation begins in the Earth's polar regions. When ocean water in these areas gets very cold, sea ice forms. These deep-ocean currents are driven by differences in the water's density, which is controlled by temperature (thermo) and salinity (haline).
  • 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 factors determine the density of the ocean water?

    There are two main factors that make ocean water more or less dense than about 1027 kg/m3: the temperature of the water and the salinity of the water. Ocean water gets more dense as temperature goes down. So, the colder the water, the more dense it is. Increasing salinity also increases the density of sea water.
  • How is the global conveyor belt important to the Earth's food chain?

    Warm surface waters are depleted of nutrients and carbon dioxide, but they are enriched again as they travel through the conveyor belt as deep or bottom layers. The base of the world's food chain depends on the cool, nutrient-rich waters that support the growth of algae and seaweed.

Updated: 3rd October 2019

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