Ocean Circulation Date:
Thermal energy is transferred throughout the hydrosphere
THERMOHALINE CIRCULATION- the continuous flow of water around the
world’s oceans driven by differences in water temperatures (“thermo”)
and salinity (“haline”):
o Poles, salty (ice rejects salt and water
freezes as freshwater, so remaining water is
saltier) + cold = dense water that sinks
o Equator, less salty + warm = less dense
water flows to poles to replace sinking water
o Acts like an enormous conveyor belt
OCEAN CURRENT- water movement over great distances due to
thermohaline circulation, winds, breaking waves, Coriolis force, and TIDES
(gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun)
Ocean current direction and strength are influenced by depth contours,
shoreline configurations, and interaction with other ocean currents
Ocean currents play a dominant part in determining climate zones, ex.
Gulf Stream makes northwest Europe much more temperate than any
other region at the same latitude
1) a) Use a map of thermohaline circulation to identify an area in the world
that is likely to have a warm, damp climate due to ocean currents.
b) Use a map of thermohaline circulation to identify a region that is likely
to have a cold, dry, climate due to ocean currents.
2) Draw a diagram to show the movement of cold and warm water in the
hydrosphere around the equator.
3) Define a “thermohaline”.
4) Earth’s thermohaline circulation is like an “enormous conveyor belt.”
What is being moved on this “global conveyor belt” that affects Earth’s
5) How are convection currents in the oceans formed?
6) Why are coastal cities attractive to many people seeking a moderate
7) A large island, surrounded by ocean, has two cities at the same latitude.
One city is situated on the west coast and the other on the east coast.
Cold ocean currents travel along the west coast of the island, and warm
ocean currents travel along the east coast. Predict which city would have
a warmer average annual temperature. Explain your answer.