Tag Archives | thermohaline circulation

Tracers in the Sea

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Exotic mysteries that flow underneath a seemingly familiar surface teem with opportunities for the inquisitive mind.  A most literal and timely example is the topic of ocean circulation.  As the erudite listeners of Science… sort of may already know; not only is the earth quite a bit rounder than once thought, the oceans that dance on its surface are not mere mixing bowls of uniformly salty fluids churned by a flick of King Neptune’s trident.  Ocean water is stratified into layers that separate because of differential densities controlled by temperature and salinity.  As water moves, it travels along planes of constant density (isopycnals); which means that on average, water is more likely to flow laterally rather than vertically.


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