Deep-Ocean Circulation Lab Activity
In this activity, you will experiment with the salinity and temperature of water to observe the effect they have on water density
Part A: Introduction
Before completing the lab, please read over Chapter 15 of the textbook.
Ocean circulation has two primary components: surface ocean currents and deep-ocean circulation. While surface currents such as the famous Gulf Stream are driven primarily by the prevailing winds, deep-ocean circulation is largely the result of differences in ocean water density (the ratio of mass to volume). A density current is the movement of one body of water over, under or through another caused by density differences and gravity. High-density seawater sinks below low-density seawater.
The most important factors in creating these density differences are variations in salinity and temperature. High-salinity water is more dense than lower-salinity water. Cold water is more dense than warm water.
Salinity is the amount of dissolved solid material in water, expressed as parts per thousand parts of water. The symbol for parts per thousand is 0/00. Although there are many dissolved salts in seawater, sodium chloride (table salt) is the most abundant.
The main control of the salinity of seawater is the removal or addition of fresh water. When water is removed, such as by evaporation or freezing, any dissolved salts are left behind and the salinity of the remaining water is increased. Alternatively, when fresh water is added to seawater, the seawater is diluted and salinity is lowered. So:
The factors that determine the concentration of salts in seawater are not constant from the equator to the poles, or with depth in the ocean, so the salinity of seawater also varies with latitude and depth.
Temperature is the most extensively determined variable of the oceans because it is easily measured and has an important influence on marine life. Like salinity, ocean water temperatures vary from the equator to poles and also changes with depth. Temperature, like salinity, also affects the density of seawater. Lower temperatures result in higher densities. The density of seawater is more sensitive to temperature fluctuations than salinity.
Part B: Salinity and Temperature Experiments
Write a brief summary of the results of your salinity-density and temperature -density experiments, then proceed to the questions below
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