Panama Canal

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by NYR99, May 27, 2011.

  1. NYR99 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    #1
    How are the Atlantic and Pacific oceans a different level at the Panama Canal, if those 2 oceans join south of South America. It just doesn't make sense to me. I tried to google it but I could not find any specific answers.
     
  2. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    #2
    It's only a few feet, probably due to tides.

    The Pacific side has much higher tidal swings, on the order of 19 ft more so a single grade channel could not be used.
     
  3. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Location:
    Always a day away
    #3
    Consider currents - they're greater near the equator than near the poles, since 1 degree of travel at the equator is many times longer than the same angular distance near the poles. The rotation of the earth makes this noticeable, same as the Coriolis Effect.

    This causes the rotation of the ocean's currents to be far more pronounced in the canal zone, so that the east and west coasts can have different elevations at Panama, but the elevation difference is essentially zero south of Tierra Del Fuego.
     
  4. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #4
    The panama canel goes through a lake as well an the lake elevation needs to be accounted for
     
  5. NYR99 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    #5
    Very interesting. Thanks for the replies. So if there was no canal there, would there be a waterfall?
     
  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #6
    Before there was a canal there was a hunk of land that was higher than the water on either side.... so no waterfall. If you meant what would happen if they dug trench at the same height as the ocean level straight through that hunk of land, then there would probably be a strong enough current running through it to create a waterfall if the channel was shallow, and if it had step.

    Another cool thing about water. I read earlier this year (sorry, no link) that if all the ice on Greenland melted and raised ocean levels, that the Greenland coast would experience a less than average raising of water. That's because the sheer mass of all of that ice is causing a gravitational pull on the surrounding ocean water. In other words, the sea level around Greenland is already higher than the average sea level. (By melting the ice, the extra mass goes away, and the sea level would decline when it was not longer being pulled towards Greenland.)

    Also - the Atlantic end of the Panama Canal is west of the Pacific end. Sort that one out, eh?

    Go Canucks!
     
  7. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #7
    No because there's a large land mass called panama :p
    [​IMG]
     

Share This Page