A laboratory activity to learn about heat transport through the Earth’s oceans (the great ocean conveyor belt) and the effects of this ocean conveyor belt on global climate.

Students will model the flow of heat through the oceans, learn about the effects of changes in temperature and density of ocean water on currents, and discuss how the Earth’s ocean conveyor belt influences the climate of different regions and the lives of marine organisms.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. Describe the global ocean conveyor belt model for heat transport through the oceans.
  2. What are thermohaline currents? How do they influence climate in different parts of the world?
  3. How could the melting of ice caps affect the ocean conveyor belt? What could be the possible consequences for living organisms in deep water?

About the Tool

Tool Name Global Ocean Conveyor Belt
Discipline Physics
Topic(s) in Discipline Energy; Density; Temperature; Heat Transfer; Heat Transport; Thermohaline Circulation;
Climate Topic Climate and the Hydrosphere
Type of Tool Laboratory Activity
Grade Level High School
Location Global
Language English
Developed by ANDRILL Antarctic Geological Drilling
Hosted at ANDRILL Antarctic Geological Drilling
Link http://www.andrill.org/education/elf_activities_3A.html
Access Online; Offline
Computer Skills Basic


(Image: https://www.sciencebuddies.org/teacher-resources/lesson-plans/oceanic-circulation#summary)