• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Thermohaline Circulation

THERMOHALINE CIRCULATION IS global oceanic circulation generated by buoyancy fluxes resulting from heat and freshwater exchange between the ocean, atmosphere, cryosphere, and land. External forcing leading to an increase in water density (i.e., cooling or salinity rise) causes the sinking of more dense water (so-called thermohaline convection) and compensating transport of more light shallower waters of the upper mixed layer and thermocline. This process forms thermohaline overturning, which is one of the principal mechanisms of meridional heat transport in the worlds ocean and global coupled ocean-atmosphere system.

Thermohaline circulation is characterized by two regimes, as was first pointed out by Henry Stommel. They are caused by thermal and haline effects and, in turn, account for large-scale temperature and salinity distribution in the World Ocean and, hence, ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles