The Importance of the Great Ocean Conveyor

The great ocean conveyor is the circulation system of the ocean. The conveyor transports both energy and matter around the world in an identifiable circulatory pattern. This system is conceptualised as acting like a giant conveyor belt taking heat energy across immense ocean distances in the air-driven currents of the oceans as well as any material substances that happen to have found their way in there. The conveyor is of great importance to the climate and may be linked to carbon dioxide levels in the air.

The great ocean conveyor is more scientifically known as the thermohaline circulation, although it may also be referred to by some as the global conveyor belt or the ocean conveyor belt. Behind this idea is the notion of density gradients in the oceans. The underlying cause of these is the heat on the surface of the oceans and also the fluxes in the fresh water. The salt content of the water also has an effect on density gradients.

The circulatory path of the great ocean conveyor includes surface water being blown away from the Equator and towards the poles. An example of this is the Gulf Stream. As it moves towards the poles, the circulating water of the great ocean conveyor loses heat and begins to sink. It then flows into the ocean basins. Of course, in sinking, the water must then displace the water that is already there. This leads to a very diffuse upwelling of lower density water across wide reaches of ocean.

Besides the heat energy that is being transported, the great ocean conveyor is also transporting matter around the oceans as well. This can include a variety of different substances from solids to gases to dissolved substances. Anything that finds its way into the ocean could potentially find itself going on a very long journey as the circulatory system takes hold of it.

The great ocean conveyor plays a highly significant part in the climate of the planet. It transports heat to the Polar Regions, for example. In doing so, the amount of ice that can be formed in these regions is limited. It has also been suggested that the thermohaline circulation is a significant factor in determining the carbon dioxide levels that are found in the air. The great ocean conveyor is one of the major forces that shape our world’s climate and any changes to it could have major consequences for all life on earth.