Ocean Circulation Questions 2014


Ocean Circulation

The properties of different water masses in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are shown in the data tables below. The cross sections of both oceans are shown below in figures below these. Use your understanding of how DENSITY influences ocean circulation to fill in the names (abbreviations) of the water masses on the figures and answer the following questions. (Hint: think about which water mass may sink to the bottom and which may float) ATLANTIC OCEAN

Water Mass Temp (°C) Salinity (ppt) Density (g/cm 3 )

Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) Antarctic Circumpolar Water (AACP) -0.5 0 34.7 34.7 1.0278 1.0272 Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) 4 3 34.2 34.9 1.0269 1.0276

Water Mass

North Pacific Intermediate Water (NPIW) PACIFIC OCEAN

Temp (°C)


Salinity (ppt)


Density (g/cm


3 )

Antarctic Circumpolar Water (AACP) Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) North Pacific Deep Water (NPDW) 0 4 3 34.7 34.2 34.6 1.0272 1.0269 1.0273


If a water mass became less dense, how might that affect ocean circulation patterns? 2.

Does wind affect deep ocean circulation? Explain.



Watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3niR_-Kv4SM . Describe what is happening. What do you think is the primary reason for the water movement in this animation? The combination of surface currents and deep ocean currents is often referred to as “The Great Ocean Conveyor Belt”. An example of a conveyor belt would be the grocery store checkout lane that automatically moves your groceries from the end to the cashier at the front. Why do you believe this current has this nickname? What is being moved?

Scientific American “Hot Planet - Cold Comfort” Video Questions Go to: www.pbs.org/saf/1505/video/watchonline.htm

, watch the three segments and answer the questions for each.

Part 1 – The Seas Greatest River:

1) Explain in detail how the Gulf Stream operates and acts like a “giant heat pump” 2) How is the Gulf Stream changing, and what is a possible consequence of this change?

Part 2 – Water, Water Everywhere:

3) What has happened to the amount of freshwater runoff from rives and glaciers in the arctic? 4) What is happening to the salinity of the oceans in the tropics? And the Polar Regions?