figure at the right shows the signature form of staircases: temperature
and salinity vary in a step like fashion in the vertical with homogeneous
layers 10 - 30 meters thick separated by sharp vertical gradients of one
to a few meters. Note the squareness of the corners in these profiles
in the depth range between 250 and 350 meters. Most salinity and
temperature profiles have more gradual changes like those shown on this
plot deeper than 400 meters.
Thermohaline staircases are found in ocean regions where temperature
and salinity both decrease with depth and nearly compensate in density.
The layers are believed to be sustained by convective mixing driven by
vertical buoyancy fluxes caused by salt fingering in the sharp gradient
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