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Visualization of cabbeling in an example Temperature-Salinity diagram. Combining water masses A and B in equal proportions forms water mass C, which has a higher density than either A or B.

Cabbeling is the resultant sinking of a combined water parcel due to the mixing process of two separate water parcels. Sinking occurs because of the higher density of the combined water parcel from the mixing of two water parcels of the same density, but different salinity and temperature characteristics.[1] The densification of the new mixed water parcel is a result of a slight contraction upon mixing; a decrease in volume of the combined water parcel.[2] A new water parcel that has the same amount of water, but is lower in volume will be denser. Denser water sinks or downwells in the otherwise neutral surface of the ocean where the two initial water parcels originated.[3] This strange phenomenon is the result of the non-linearity in the equation of state for seawater.

High Latitude Cabbeling[edit]

Cabbeling may occur in high incidence in high latitude waters. Polar region waters are a place where cold and fresh water melting from sea ice meets warmer, saltier water convecting from lower latitudes. Ocean currents are responsible for bringing this warmer, saltier water to higher latitudes, especially on the eastern shores of Northern Hemisphere continents, and on the western shores of Southern Hemisphere continents. The phenomenon of cabbeling has been particularly noted in the Weddell Sea [4] and the Greenland Sea.[5]

See also[edit]

Wikitionary Definition Cabbeling


  1. ^ Beer, Tom (1997). Environmental oceanography. Boca Raton: CRC Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-8493-8425-7, Section 5.4.3 Cabbeling .
  2. ^ AMS glossary,.
  3. ^ AGU Thermobaricity, Cabbelling and Water-Mass Conversion,.
  4. ^ Cabbeling in the Weddell Sea paper,.
  5. ^ Cabbeling in the Greenland Basin paper,.