Laura Henry - Cornell College

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Laura Henry
What is the Global Conveyor Belt?

Thermohaline
 Temperature
 Salinity


Deep-ocean current
Downwelling
 Occurs at poles

Upwelling
 Occurs at equator

Continuous cycle
Climate and the Global Conveyor Belt





Ocean water
transfers sun’s
energy
Regulates/normaliz
es Earth’s
temperature
Begins in North
Atlantic
Moves heat
towards poles
Takes 1,000 years
to complete
Early Connections to Climate Change




Wallace Broecker, 1984
Carbon levels in polar
ice measured
Revealed patter of high
carbon levels just before
ice age
Rise in atmospheric
temperature connected
to glacial periods
Later Research




Studies of forams from
glacial periods
Forams found at
intermediate ocean
levels rather than in the
deep sea
Forams lack O^16
molecules
Evidence that global
warming is directly
followed by ice age
Global Warming’s affect on the belt



Melting of ice caps
diluting salt water
Water in the poles
becoming less dense
Disrupting the process of
downwelling
Global warming in the past

Henrich Events
 Sheets of ice break off glaciers
 Melt into Atlantic
 Release ice-rafted debris

Dansgaard-Oescher Events (DC)
 Freshwater introduced into North
Atlantic
 Antarctic deep water released
 CO2 transferred to atmosphere
Implications of a conveyor belt shut-down
Tropic zones would experience severe heat waves
 Moderate zones thrust into ice-age
 Inhabitable areas cut down
 Possibly no way to reverse a shut-down

Too soon to know for sure
Not enough research to be certain
 RAPID tests inconclusive
 Nothing of this scale has occurred before
 More scientific evidence in favor of a conveyor belt
shut down than against it

Sources
http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/currents/06conve
yor.html
http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/ocean
ography/ocean-current3.htm
http://northwestpassage.bangor.ac.uk/diary.php
http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame/student/tinsley1/webp
age1.html
http://montessorimuddle.org/tag/paleontology/
http://www.rsmas.miami.edu/groups/coral-lab/faq/
http://scijinks.nasa.gov/atmosphere-formation
http://www.webquest.hawaii.edu/kahihi/sciencedictionary/C/cl
imatezone.php
http://www.divediscover.whoi.edu/polar/impact.html
http://www.esr.org/outreach/polar/what/what.html

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