File:Thermohaline circulation.png

From Global Warming Art


This map shows the pattern of thermohaline circulation also known as "meridional overturning 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.

The surface currents are driven primarily by surfaces winds, but are also influenced by the Coriolis effect and physical impediments like continents. At a small number of specific polar regions, the surface water become denser than the underlying deep water and can sink. This densification is based on a combination of very low temperatures and relatively high salinity. These sinking currents flow into and across the deep ocean basins and circulate across the global ocean system before eventually returning to the surface, mostly in the Pacific and Indian Ocean basins.


Image created by Robert Simmon, NASA [1]. Minor modifications by Robert A. Rohde released to the public domain.

This file is in the public domain because it was created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that "NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted". (NASA copyright policy page).

File history

Click on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time.

current18:53, 29 March 2008Thumbnail for version as of 18:53, 29 March 20081,100×690 (122 KB)Robert A. Rohde (Talk | contribs)
07:31, 29 March 2008Thumbnail for version as of 07:31, 29 March 20081,100×690 (121 KB)Robert A. Rohde (Talk | contribs)

    Random image