Education: The Effects of Density-Driven Circulation on Climate

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Explain the influence of ocean salinity on the thermohaline circulation
Describe how changes in the ocean's circulation can produce large changes in climate (NSES,189; NAAEE,54; OLS,12)
Explain how climate variations can induce changes in the global ocean circulation
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How Does Density-Driven Circulation Affect Climate (and Vice Versa)?
Carbon is the basic building block of life, and its compounds form solids, liquids, or gases. Carbon helps form the bodies of living organisms; it dissolves in the ocean; mixes in the atmosphere; and can be stored in the crust of the planet. A carbon atom could spend millions of years moving through this complex cycle. The ocean plays the most critical role in regulating Earth's carbon balance, and understanding how the carbon cycle is changing is key to understanding Earth's changing climate. Excess heat associated with the increase in global temperature during the last century is being absorbed and moved by the ocean. Surface ocean and atmospheric temperature changes may cause evaporation to intensify and, as a result, significantly alter sea surface salinity and ocean circulation patterns.

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