Ocean Circulation

Ocean Circulation

The purpose of this learning object is to help students visualize density-dependent ocean circulation patterns.

In this demonstration I have three contrasting densities, with different colors, 1) very dense (cold and salty), 2) least dense (hot and fresh), and 3) intermediate (cold and fresh). The two most contrasting dentistry layers are in a tank; the intermediate density water is released over a "sill" and flows in between the two. This simulates the Mediterranean water flowing into the Atlantic. It makes a great demonstration, and can be done with only the intermediate water having a contrasting color. But its use is limited because it happens fast and is time consuming to set up and takes two people to run. If it were digitized, you could slow down the events and even wait until the waters had mixed allowing you to calculate the diffusion rate.

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Future Possibilities

If needed, continue to videotape until liquids of differing densities are completely mixed, so students can calculate the diffusion rate.

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Suzanne O'Connell: Author
Anne Loyer: Graphical Designer
Joel Labella: Content Provider
Will Gladstone: Programmer

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At a Glance

Suzanne O'Connell

Science and Technology\General Science


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Technical Requirements