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Thermohaline Circulation

Robert Simmon, NASA

This map shows the pattern of thermohaline circulation. This collection of currents is responsible for the large-scale exchange of water masses in the ocean, including providing oxygen to the deep ocean. The entire circulation pattern takes ~2000 years.

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Climate Literacy
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Ocean as climate control, oceanic conveyor belt; abrupt changes in thermohaline circulation
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Climate is complex
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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • A clear diagram to use when beginning discussion of ocean circulation.
  • High resolution of image is available.

About the Science

  • This figure shows a clear, highly generalized diagram of thermohaline circulation. Includes global surface water salinity distribution.
  • Comments from expert scientist: A useful image from a trusted website.

About the Pedagogy

  • Learners are directed to Wikipedia article on thermohaline circulation for further information.

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