Patrick Walters sent in this great tidbit about the ocean’s “thermohaline currents” driven by salinity and temperature gradients.
The ocean conveyor gets its “start” in the Norwegian Sea, where warm water from the Gulf Stream heats the atmosphere in the cold northern latitudes. This loss of heat to the atmosphere makes the water cooler and denser, causing it to sink to the bottom of the ocean. As more warm water is transported north, the cooler water sinks and moves south to make room for the incoming warm water. This cold bottom water flows south of the equator all the way down to Antarctica. Eventually, the cold bottom waters are able to warm and rise to the surface, continuing the conveyor belt that encircles the globe.
It takes almost 1,000 years for the conveyor belt to complete one “cycle.”
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