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Outcome: Explain the influence of ocean salinity on the thermohaline circulation (e.g., "global conveyor belt").
Grade level: 9-12
Theme: ocean circulation
The Labrador Sea is the coldest and freshest basin of the North Atlantic. Winter cooling in this sea produces Labrador Sea Water. This intermediate water plays an important role in the exchange of heat, freshwater, and other substances between the atmosphere and the abyssal ocean, affecting the water masses, circulation, and, ultimately, climate of the subpolar North Atlantic basins.
The subpolar gyre of the North Atlantic has exhibited large changes in temperature, salinity, and volume over the past six decades, largely in response to changing winter conditions over the Labrador Sea. The signature of these changes can be seen in the lower limb of the Meridional Overturning Circulation down into the North Atlantic tropics.
Read and discuss the Abstract and Introduction (p. 30-32).