Get Stratification Water essential facts below. View Videos
or join the Stratification Water discussion
. Add Stratification Water
to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share
this resource on social media.
Water stratification is when water masses with different properties - salinity (halocline), oxygenation (chemocline), density (pycnocline), temperature (thermocline) - form layers that act as barriers to water mixing which could lead to anoxia or euxinia. These layers are normally arranged according to density, with the least dense water masses sitting above the more dense layers.
Water stratification also creates barriers to nutrient mixing between layers. This can affect the primary production in an area by limiting photosynthetic processes. When nutrients from the benthos cannot travel up into the photic zone, phytoplankton may be limited by nutrient availability. Lower primary production also leads to lower net productivity in waters.
A large-scale circulation of horizontally stratified water masses, called the thermohaline circulation
, occurs in the ocean. The entire circulation pattern takes around 2,000 years to complete.
Stratification may be upset by turbulence. This creates mixed layers of water. Forms of turbulence may include wind-sea surface friction, upwelling and downwelling.
Marshall et al. (2002) suggest that baroclinic eddies (baroclinity) may be an important factor in maintaining stratification.