Guiding Question: Can climate change affect ocean currents?

  1. Introduce North Atlantic Deep Water. Off the coast of Greenland in the North Atlantic, very cold, very salty water sinks down to the bottom of the ocean and slowly flows towards the Equator, this is called North Atlantic Deep Water, NADW. This sinking water is one of the major drivers of the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt. This mass of very cold, salty dense water is formed in the North Atlantic due to evaporation and cooling as the water moves to the Arctic; as sea ice forms, the water becomes even more salty, making the water even denser.
  2. Explaining the model. This computer simulation will allow students to investigate how changes in air temperature and therefore saltiness of ocean water (due to melting sea ice) can change ocean currents. This picture shows a side view of the North Atlantic ocean with Greenland on the left of the screen and the Equator over on the right [This is represented by the green arrows in the model].