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Module D - Surface Ocean & Thermohaline Circulation.docx

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University of British Columbia
BIOL 111
Catherine Ortner

MODULE D Surface OceanThermohaline Circulationpg 161173 193229 476 322323 Lesson 8Surface Ocean CirculationHow does the Coriolis effect influence fluid motion on a rotating Earth pg 167170 see drawn diagram the Coriolis effect changes the intended path of moving body causing moving object on Earth to follow curved paths right in the Northern hemisphere and left in the Southern hemisphere the Coriolis effect has a large impact on objects traveling long distances such as atmospheric circulation and the movement of ocean currents the Coriolis effect is caused by the difference in the speed of Earths rotation at different latitudes thus objects appear to curve even though they are actually traveling along straightline paths since the Earth is rotating underneath them the perspective of being on the rotating Earth causes objects to appear to travel along curved paths but this is just the Coriolis effect the perspective to keep in mind when considering the Coriolis effect is the one looking in the same direction that the object is moving as Earth rotates on its axis the velocity decreases with latitude so the velocity is high at the equator and low at the poles this change in velocity with latitude is the true cause of the Coriolis effect the maximum Coriolis effect is at the poles and there is no Coriolis effect at the equatorsWhat are the Ekman spiral and Ekman transport How do these explain the motion of surface water currents relative to prevailing wind directions pg 201202 the Ekman spiral describes the speed and direction of flow of surface waters at various depths because of the Coriolis effect surface water moves in a direction 45 degrees to the right of the wind in the Northern hemisphere this surface water moves as a thin layer on top of deeper layers of water as the surface water moves other layers beneath it are set in motion thus passing the energy of the wind down through the water column however the speed decreases with increasing depth because of the Coriolis effect each successive layer of water is set in motion at a progressively slower velocity and in a direction progressively to the right of the one above it at some depth a layer of water may move in a direction exactly opposite from the wind direction that initiated it all layers of water combine to create a net water movement that is 90 degrees from the direction of the wind this average movement called the Ekman transport is 90 degrees to the right in the Northern hemisphere and 90 degrees to the left in the Southern hemisphere
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