This Changing Planet video documents scientists' concerns regarding how melting Arctic sea ice will increase the amount of fresh water in the Beaufort Gyre, which could spill out into the Atlantic and cause major climate shifts in North America and Western Europe. The video includes interviews with scientists and a look at the basics of how scientists measure salinity in the ocean and how ocean circulation works in the Arctic.
This video from NASA features scientists who describe the role of salt in the oceans and global oceanic circulation, especially the effect of salinity on the density of water and its global circulation, with reference to global climate change.
In this activity for undergraduate students, learners build a highly simplified computer model of thermohaline circulation (THC) in the North Atlantic Ocean and conduct a set of simulation experiments to understand the complex dynamics inherent in this simple model.
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.
In this activity, learners observe the effects of the layering of warm and cold water and water that is more or less saline than regular water. They will discover how the effects of salinity and temperature are the root cause of thermohaline layering in the ocean.
This activity utilizes labs, online resources, and student ideas to build an understanding of polar climates, how changes in polar oceans can affect coastal climates, and how changes in polar regions affect climates elsewhere on Earth.