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Oceano10 R.

Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation


OCEAN CURRENTS: An ocean current is a discreet flowing mass of sea water. Its motion is governed by the wind and/or by density differences with adjacent water masses. Two major current systems exist with the ocean: Surface Currents = wind generated, restricted to upper layer of the ocean, characterized by horizontal flow. They primarily flow parallel to the latitudes, except where deflected to the north or south by a landmass. Thermohaline currents = generated by density differences between water masses. They usually originate as water becomes increasingly dense because of increasing salinity (more salt) or decreasing temperature (colder). Salinity is the total dissolved salts in seawater, in parts per thousand (). Salinity is increased by evaporation of water and formation of sea ice, and decreased by precipitation (rain/snow), ice melting, and river runoff. The water mass sinks and then flows horizontally outward in all directions. Thermohaline circulation transports cold, dense waters from the polar and subpolar regions toward the equator along the sea floor. SURFACE CIRCULATION WINDS: As surface winds blow across the ocean, friction drags the surface water in the general direction the air is moving. Large scale, one directional flow of water is called a wind-generated current (Fig. 1). The speed of a wind-driven current is always fastest at the surface and decreases with depth because energy transfer downward in the water column is inefficient. Where currents collide with landmasses, the currents are deflected and flow along the landmass as a boundary current. Wind = movement of air parallel to earths surface. Surface Winds = winds in contact with earths surface. Each hemisphere has three major atmospheric cells: the Hadley Cell, the Ferrel Cell, and the Polar Cell. Think or these as wind belts. Also, each hemisphere has three windless belts between the atmospheric cells: Doldrums , Horse Latitudes , Polar Front. The major surface winds are the Trade Winds (Hadley Cell, 0 to 30), Westerlies (Ferrel Cell, 30 to 50-60) and the Polar Easterlies (Polar Cell, 50-60 to 90). The winds are named for their direction of travel, which is influenced by the Coriolis Effect. Windless zones are created where either cold, dry air sinks to the earths surface forming a zone of high pressure (Falling-Compressing-Warming ) or where warm, moist air rises form the earths surface forming a zone of low pressure (Rising-Expanding-Cooling). There are no winds in areas of high pressure or low pressure because the air is moving vertically, not parallel to the surface. The windless zones are the Doldrums (0), Horse Latitudes (30), Subpolar Lows (50or60), and the Polar Highs (90). If the earth did not rotate, the major winds would blow north and south from Pole to equator; however, the Coriolis Effect deflects winds by about 45 from their original course. Remember, in the Northern Hemisphere, the deflection is to the right (clockwise), so Trade Winds blow from NE to SW and the Westerlies blow from SW to NE. In the Southern Hemisphere, the deflection is to the left (counterclockwise), so Trade Winds here blow from the SE to NW and the Westerlies blow from NW to SE (see Fig. 8.13, p. 185 of Garrison). SURFACE CIRCULATION OCEAN CURRENTS: Water propelled by the wind is also affected by the Coriolis Effect (Fig. 2). Water currents are deflected an additional 45 to the direction of the winds. This means that the ocean currents flow east and west at 90 to the lines of longitude and parallel to the lines of latitude. In the North Atlantic, the Trade Winds produce

Oceano10 R. Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation


the North Equatorial Current that flows westward from Africa to South America. Similarly, the Westerlies produce the North Atlantic Current, which flows eastward from North America toward Europe. Ocean currents, in contrast to winds, are identified by the direction in which they are traveling. The North Equatorial Current is a westerly current and the North Atlantic Current is an easterly current. When wind-generated currents impinge against a landmass, they become boundary currents and flow parallel to the land until they are diverted by other winds (Fig. 2). The North Equatorial Current becomes a boundary current known as the Gulf Stream originating in the Gulf of Mexico. If flows for thousands of miles northward along eastern North America until it is caught by the Westerlies and blown toward Europe as the North Atlantic Current. At Europe, most of the current flows southward toward the tropics as the Canary Current (boundary current). Eventually the Canary Current is blown westward by the Trade Winds as the North Equatorial Current. In each ocean and in each hemisphere, the currents flow in circular paths composed of two wind-generated, east and west currents and two north and south boundary currents. This circular transport of water in the ocean basin is called a gyre. Because Coriolis deflection is reversed in the northern and southern hemispheres, resulting gyres rotate in opposite directions: counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Doldrums between the gyres, two distinctly wind-driven currents develop (Fig. 2). The North and South Equatorial Countercurrents are secondary currents resulting because the wind-driven equatorial currents pull water away from the east side of the ocean basin, forming a depression, and create a mound of water against the west side of the ocean basin. Water flowing down the resulting slope forms the easterly current that is part of the countercurrent.

Oceano10 R. Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation


SEA WATER DENSITY: The density of sea water is mainly controlled by salinity and temperature. Density increases with increasing salinity and decreasing temperature. Because of variations in temperature and salinity in sea water, a density stratification extends from the equator into the temperate regions (Fig. 3). For the time being, well summarize this density stratification. There are three zones: the Surface Zone, the Pycnocline, and the Lower or Deep Zone. The upper surface zone is characterized by water being warmer and less dense with variable salinity. This layer extends to a maximum of 100 m at about 30 north and south latitudes. The pycnocline is characterized by a rapid increase in density with depth because of changes in salinity and temperature. The deep zone is characterized by extremely cold water and gradual increases in density with depth.

UPWELLING DOWNWELLING: Surface currents do not extend to great depths, but can influence deeper layers of water in several ways. In areas where the pycnoline is relatively shallow, surface currents can induce a weak current in the denser waters of the pycnocline. Where strong persistent winds blow parallel to coastlines they develop a surface current that moves water away from land or toward land. The denser underlying water in the pycnocline may be drawn upward to replace the departing surface water or pushed downward by accumulating surface waters. In the first case, this is called upwelling (Fig. 1). Under special conditions of prolonged upwelling of nutrient rich water, phosphorite nodules can form. In the second case, the sinking and depressing of the pycnocline to a greater depth is called downwelling.

Oceano10 R. Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation


Exercise 5A. Wind Circulation Patterns Part I: Non-Rotating, Water-Covered Earth Model (see Fig. 8.8, Garrison Text) Look at Figure 4 below. It has three atmospheric circulation cells per hemisphere. 1) Temperature has a strong effect on the movement of air. Does hot air at the equator rise of fall?___________________ Use an arrow to indicate the correct air motion at the equator. Is this a LO or a HI pressure zone at the surface?_________________ Label it LO or HI on Figure 4. 2) Now look at 30 both north and south latitude. Warm air rises at the equator, spreads out and cools, gets denser, and falls at 30; the falling air presses down and creates a (HI or LO?)_______ pressure zone. Put an arrow at 30 to show that the air falls there and label it HI or LO. 3) Would air rise or sink at the poles? Put the arrows in between the cells at those zones and label them HI or LO, as above. You should now be able to tell whether there are HI or LO pressure zones at 60. Label these HI or LO on Figure 4. 4) Do surface winds flow from LO to HI or from HI to LO pressure zones? _________________ Add arrow heads to the circulation cells to show the direction of surface winds. 5) Now, on the globe itself, show the surface wind bands corresponding to each atmospheric circulation cell as dashed arrows indicating if the sense of motion is north to south or south to north in each band. Remember, the earth is not rotating yet!

Figure 4.

Oceano10 R. Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation


1) 2) 3) 4) Part II: Rotating, Water-Covered Earth Model (see Fig. 8.13, Garrison) Now the earth is spinning. What is the spin going to do to the surface wind band paths you just sketched in Part 1, question 5? Sketch in solid arrows to show how the paths deflect on Figure 4. This apparent deflection is due to the __________. Label each wind band with its proper name on Figure 4. Label the zone between each wind band with its proper name. Look at the LO and HI zones between cells. (a) Rising air starts to cool until moisture condenses and rain falls. Where is precipitation greater than evaporation? Label these zones P. (b) Falling air is dry so evaporation exceeds precipitation. Where this occurs label E. (c) Now label each zone for high salinity or low salinity surface waters.

Part III: Ocean Currents 1) When Coriolis Effect and gravity are in balance, there is stable and persistent flow of two east-west currents and two north-south currents in both hemispheres. This circular transport of water in each ocean basin is known as _____________ (see Fig. 9.2, Garrison). (a) This circular transport in the northern hemisphere flows clockwise or counterclockwise?_________________ (b) The circular transport in the southern hemisphere flows clockwise or counterclockwise? ____ (c) Sketch these circular transport currents on the map on Figure 5. 2) On Figure 5, label the four currents that form the North Pacific gyre and the four currents that form the North Atlantic gyre (see Fig. 9.8, Garrison). 3) Where are the most intense (strongest) currents located?

Figure 5.

Oceano10 R. Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation


Part IV: The Geostrophic Gyre and Boundary Currents To see why some currents are more intense than others, look at cross sections (profiles) of the sea surface for both the North and South Atlantic in the middle of the gyres.

a) In the North Atlantic (cross section A-A above): There is a hump in the sea surface that is offset to the western side of the basin(see Fig. 9.7, Garrison). Why?_______________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ The speed of the current on the western side of the hump is (slower or faster?) than on the eastern side (remember, things flow downhill faster than uphill). This current is the Gulf Stream. Is the Gulf Stream a fast or slow current? __________________________________ When water flows down the western slope of the hump it will be deflected to the (right or left?), and thus will flow to the (north or south?). b) Repeat the above for the South Atlantic, cross section (B-B above). Again the hump is on the western side. Where is the fastest, most intense current? _______________________________ What is the name of this current (see Fig. 9.8, Garrison)? ______________________________ c) These intense currents are the western boundary currents and are called western intensification currents. Can you name the two western intensification currents in the Pacific Ocean (see Fig. 9.8, Garrison text)? _________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________

Oceano10 R. Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation


Part V: Coastal Upwelling Recall that wind exerts a frictional force on the water surface and imparts energy to the water. As the water begins to move it is deflected by the Coriolis Effect. In the northern hemisphere, surface waters are deflected 45 to the right of the wind direction. However, due to the Ekman Spiral (progressive water deflection to the right of superjacent layers in the surface layer see Fig. 9.5, Garrison), the Ekman Transport (net water transport) is 90 to the right of the prevailing wind direction (see Fig. 8.6, Garrison text). a) On map (A) for on the Washington Coast in summer, the arrow shows the wind direction. Indicate the direction of Ekman transport on the map with an arrow labeled N.T. b) Does your arrow point out to sea? On profile (B) sketch an arrow showing the direction of net transport in the surface layer (down to 100 m depth). c) Draw an arrow (on profile B) showing the movement of deeper water below 150 m. d) Now look at the Washington Coast wind pattern in winter (map C). Complete the same steps as above to show the net Ekman Transport direction. e) On profile D use arrows to show motion of the surface layer waters and deeper waters (below 150 m). f) Upper waters pile up at the coast and replace lower waters by (upwelling or downwelling?) g) Indicate which profile is upwelling and which is downwelling.

Oceano10 R. Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation


THERMOHALINE CURRENTS: Thermohaline circulation is generated by density differences between water masses and can result in horizontal and vertical flow. These are sometimes called deep ocean currents. Recall that water density increases as water becomes cooler and more saline. If density increases sufficiently, the water sinks to a level such that all water below it is more dense and above it less dense. This water mass then flows outward in all unobstructed directions sinking below less dense and rising above more dense water masses it encounters. Because of these density differences, the ocean is density stratified (layered), with the densest water near the sea floor and the least dense near the surface. These Water Masses possess distinct properties and do not mix easily with subjacent (below) or superjacent (above) water masses. Instead these water masses flow above or beneath each other. In temperate and tropical latitudes there are five common water masses according to Temperature: 1) Surface water down to about 200 metes 2) Central water to bottom of main thermocline (where water changes temperature rapidly varies with latitude) 3) Intermediate water to about 1,500 meters depth 4) Deep water water below 1,500 meters but not in contact with sea floor 5) Bottom water water in contact with the sea floor Several forms of thermohaline circulation occur in the ocean. In subpolar to polar regions, cold dense water descends and slowly flows toward the equator across the basin. (It can take as much as 1000 years for dense, cold Antarctic water to reach the Equator.) These water masses are also more saline than regular sea water because of the concentration of salts in the remaining water as sea ice forms (as sea ice forms, the salts are concentrated in the cold sinking seawater). Excess evaporation in a restricted sea can produce dense, saline water that sinks to the appropriate density level as it flows out into the ocean. Circulation through the Strait of Gibraltar, the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, is an example of this thermohaline circulation. Thermohaline circulation also occurs in estuaries. As a river flows into the estuary, or narrow bay, the less dense fresh water forms a wedge that displaces the denser sea water. The wedge thins seaward as the fresh water spreads outward and slowly mixes with the sea water. Friction between the outflowing fresh water establishes a form of circulation called estuarian circulation. This can generate another form of upwelling. Salinity is the total amount of dissolved solids in seawater. It is not just sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl), but many ions like Ca, HCO3, CO3, Mg, K, etc. The amount of dissolved solids is expresses in parts per thousand (0/00). Variations in salinity are often due to the changes in water content of the solution. In regions where evaporation is high, the dissolved solids in seawater increase by removing fresh water through evaporation leaving behind the salts. In areas where land run-off via streams is high, fresh water dilutes the total dissolved solids making seawater less saline. Salinity-Density Experiment Complete the following experiment to get a better understanding of how salinity affects seawater density. 1. Fill the graduated cylinder with cool tap water up to the rubber band near the top of the cylinder. 2. Fill a test tube about half full of red solution A (saltwater) and pour it slowly into the cylinder. Observe and describe what happens: _______________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________

Oceano10 R. Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation


3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 two additional times and measure the time required for the front edge of the saltwater to travel from the rubber band to the bottom of the cylinder. Record the times for each test in the data table below. Make certain that you drain the cylinder after each trial and refill it with fresh water and use the same amount of solution with each trial. Solution Time trial #1 Time Trial #2 Average of #1 and #2 A B B plus salt -----------------------------------------------------------4. Determine the travel times for blue solution B exactly as you did for solution A and enter your data in the table above. 5. Fill a test tube about half full of blue solution B and add to it some additional salt. Shake the test tube vigorously. Determine the travel time of this solution and enter your results in the table above (just one time trial). 6. Which solution has the highest density? __________________________________ Ocean Surface Salinities for Atlantic and Pacific Oceans 7. Using the following data table (in parts per thousand), plot the surface water salinities for the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at various latitudes on the graph below. Use a different color pencil to plot the salinity curves for each ocean. Latitude 60 N 50 N 40 N 30 N 20 N 10 N 0 equator 10 S 20 S 30 S 40 S 50 S 60 S Atlantic Ocean 33.0 0/00 33.7 0/00 34.8 0/00 36.7 0/00 36.8 0/00 36.0 0/00 35.0 0/00 35.9 0/00 36.7 0/00 36.2 0/00 35.3 0/00 34.3 0/00 33.9 0/00 Pacific Ocean 31.0 0/00 32.5 0/00 33.2 0/00 34.2 0/00 34.2 0/00 34.4 0/00 34.3 0/00 35.2 0/00 35.6 0/00 35.7 0/00 35.0 0/00 34.4 0/00 34.0 0/00

Oceano10 R. Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation

8. At which latitudes are the highest surface salinities located? __________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 9. What are two factors that control the concentration of salts in seawater? ___________________________________ and _______________________________ 10. What causes the difference in surface water salinity between equatorial and subtropical regions in the Atlantic Ocean? ___________________________________________ 11. Of the two oceans, which has the higher average surface salinity? _______________ 12. Suggest a reason(s) for the difference in average surface salinities between the oceans. ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ 13. The figure below shows how ocean water salinity varies with depth at different latitudes. In general, does salinity increase or decrease with depth in the equatorial and tropical regions? ______________________________ 14. Does salinity increase or decrease with depth at high latitudes? __________________ 15. Why are surface salinities higher than the deepwater salinities in the lower latitudes? _____________________________________________________________________ 16. The halocline (halo = salt, cline = slope) is a layer of ocean water where there is a rapid change in salinity with depth. Label the halocline on the figure below.

Oceano10 R. Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation

17. In which zone does the halocline occur? __________________________ 18. Below the halocline, the salinity of ocean water ________ a. increases rapidly b. remains fairly constant c. decreases rapidly Ocean Water Temperatures Seawater temperature has an important influence on marine life. Like salinity, ocean water temperatures vary from the equator to poles. The temperatures also vary with depth. To see the effects of temperature on the density of water, conduct the following experiment. 19. Fill the graduated cylinder with cold tap water up to the rubber band. 20. Put 2-3 drops of red dye in a test tube and fill it half full of hot tap water. 21. Pour the contents of the test tube slowly into the cylinder and then record your observations. ____________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 22. Empty the cylinder and fill it with hot tap water. 23. Add a test tube full of cold water and 3-4 drops of blue dye to some ice in a beaker. Stir the solution for a few seconds. Fill the test tube full with some liquid (no ice) from your beaker. Slowly pour this into the cylinder with hot tap water. Observations: _______ _______________________________________________________________________ 24. Given equal salinities for the cold and warm water, which would have the greatest density? ________________________________________ 25. The table below shows the average surface temperatures and density of seawater at various latitudes. Using the data, plot a line on the graph below for temperature and a separate line for density using different color pencils. Latitude Surface Temp. (C) Surface Density (g/cm3) 60 N 5 1.0258 40 N 13 1.0259 20 N 24 1.0237 0 equator 27 1.0238 20 S 24 1.0241 40 S 15 1.0261 60 S 2 1.0272

Oceano10 R. Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation

26. Circle the correct answer. (Warm or Cool) surface temperatures and (high or low) surface densities occur in the equatorial regions. While at high latitudes, (warm or cool) surface temperatures and (high or low) surface densities are found. 27. What may be the reason for the fact that higher average surface densities occur in the Southern Hemisphere? _________________________________________________ 28. In question 8 above, we determined that the highest surface salinities occur at about latitudes 30 degrees North and 30 degrees South. 29. Look at the density curve that you plotted in the graph above. What evidence supports the fact that the temperature of seawater is more of a controlling factor on density than salinity? _______________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 30. The figure below shows how ocean water temperature varies with depth and different latitudes. Temperature decreases most rapidly with depth at (high or low) latitudes. Circle your answer and give the reason that the decrease with depth is most rapid at these latitudes. _____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________

Oceano10 R. Lopez

West Valley College NAME____________________________

Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation


31. The layer of water where there is a rapid change of temperature with depth is called the thermocline (thermo = heat; cline = slope). The thermocline is a very important structure in the ocean because it creates a vertical barrier to many types of marine life. Label the thermocline on the figure above. Where does it occur? __________________________ 32. Circle your answer. Below the thermocline the temperature of ocean water (increases rapidly, remains fairly constant, or decreases rapidly).