Ch4 Variation in the Environment4.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
University College Courses
Spencer Barrett

Thermohaline Circulation  thermohaline circulation causes currents by changes in the density of water caused by variations in temperature and salinity  as wind-driven surface currents (i.e. Gulf Stream) move towards higher latitudes, the water cools, becomes dense, and sinks  in the far north (towards Iceland and Greenland) ocean surfaces freeze in the winter  salts are excluded from sea ice, thus the underlying water increases in salinity  this cold water becomes more dense and sinks, forming the North Atlantic Deep Water current (similar near Antarctica)  then flow through abyssal depths of the ocean basins back into equatorial regions o eventually surfaces as upwelling currents  causes extensive mixing of oceans  distributes heat energy from tropics to higher latitudes  the southward movement of the NADW is crucial to the northward movement of the Gulf Stream on the surface  the global thermohaline circulation pattern is like the ocean conveyor belt Shutdown of Thermohaline Circulation and the Younger Dryas  melting Greenland ice sheets and Arctic Ocean sea ice will flood the North Atlantic with low-salinity surface waters, preventing the formation of NADW  would shut down the Gulf Stream  drastically affect Europe’s climate (no Gulf Stream = no heat from the tropics)  this event occurred about 12 700 year ago and resulted in a period of cold weather in the region called the Younger Dryas period (lasted 1300 years)  over tens of
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