The Global Conveyor Belt

The Global Conveyor Belt

Explore this infographic to help students understand how the global conveyor belt transports water around the world.


5 - 8


Earth Science, Climatology, Oceanography, Geography, Physical Geography

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Idea for Use in the Classroom

Have students study the currents in the Global Conveyor Belt infographic. As they view the infographic, ask students to consider the following questions: Do you see that the oceans (Arctic, Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian) are connected? What does this mean for marine life in the ocean? What does this mean for how we can treat ocean pollution?

After studying the currents, have students use information from the infographic to write a travel journal detailing their journey along the global conveyor belt and what they experience along the way. Instruct students to write at least six entries with the itinerary beginning and ending near Greenland. Tell students that they must include Antarctica and a point near the equator. Have them consider how long their journey will take. Encourage students to research the different animals and landforms they might see at each location on their journey. As they write, ask students to include the following information:

  • Where will you sink toward the ocean floor?
  • Where will you rise?
  • Describe what the transition feels like from a surface current to a deeper current and vice versa.
  • Describe how it feels when traveling along cold currents versus warm currents.
  • What makes those currents colder or warmer?

If time permits, have students write an entry about how climate change slowed down or stalled their journey.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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