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Convection cells HTML5

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Summary

When a fluid (liquid or gas) is heated, it expands and becomes less dense. If the temperature is not uniform in the fluid, then it undergoes local movements: the cold, dense regions tend to pass under the warm, less dense. The force responsible for this movement is the buoyancy.

On a larger scale, convection loops occur. They are represented by moving circles on this animation, but their shape and size vary widely.

Learning goals

  • To describe two examples of heat transfer by thermal convection.
  • To understand how a convection cell is formed.
  • To explain the ‘engine’ of plate tectonics.

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When Alfred Wegener set out his theory of plate tectonics in 1912, it offered no explanation of the force capable of moving continents. This absence is one reason for the rejection of his theory…

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