Images: Interrogating the 'Great Ocean Conveyor'
A global system of ocean circulation?often called the Great Ocean Conveyor?transports vast amounts of heat and salt around the planet via warmer surface currents (red) and colder deep currents (blue). It plays a central role in determining Earth's climate. (Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
The North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans are critical components of the ocean-climate system. Warm tropical waters flow northward, releasing heat to the North Atlantic region, ane eventually flow into the depths of the Arctic Ocean. Cold waters sink in the North Atlantic and flow southward to drive the Ocean Conveyor. (E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
The Greenland-Scotland Ridge looms like a great undersea barrier, stretching from East Greenland to Iceland and the Faroe Islands, and across to Scotland. There are a few gaps in the ridge, and they act as critical checkpoints that regulate the flow of warmer, saltier waters north to the Arctic Ocean and cold, fresher waters south across the ridge into the the main body of the North Atlantic Ocean. (E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Almost like a subsea waterfall, cold, dense waters flow over the Greenland-Scotland Ridge and then underneath warmer, lighter waters, heading southward. (E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Icebergs hinder scientists' abilty to study currents off the southeast coast of Greenland that are important to ocean circulation and climate, including a surface current hugging the coastline that brings cold, fresh Arctic water into the North Atlantic. (Photo by Marika Marnela, University of Hamburg)
University of Hamburg researchers designed "tube" moorings that make way for icebergs, then bounce back up, affording protection for instruments taking measurements near the surface. (E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Long, protective, buoyant tubing (on the deck and snaking behind the ship) is deployed atop moorings in ice-infested seas. The tubing is less easily smashed or snagged by the keels of drifting icebergs. (Photo by Marika Marnela, University of Hamburg)