Science - Currents, Waves, and Tides

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the periodic rise and fall of the water level in the oceans and other large bodies of water

Tidal Range

the difference in levels of ocean water at high tide and low tide

Spring Tide

a tide of increased range that occurs two times a month, at the new and full moons

Neap Tide

a tide of minimum range that occurs during the first and third quarters of the moon

Ocean Currents

a movement of ocean water that follows a regular pattern

Surface current

a horizontal movement of ocean water that is caused by wind and that occurs at of near the ocean's surface

Coriolis effect

the apparent curving of the path of a moving object from an otherwise straight path due to the Earth's rotation

Deep current

a streamline movement of ocean water far below the surface


the movement of deep, cold, and nutrient-rich water to the surface

El Nino

a change in the water temperature in the Pacific Ocean that produces a warm current

La Nina

a change in the eastern Pacific Ocean in which the surface water temperature becomes unusually cool


a subsurface current that is near shore and that pulls objects parallel to the shoreline

longshore current

a water current that travels near and parallel to the shoreline


the bubbles in the crest of a breaking wave


one of a group of long ocean waves that have steadily traveled a great distance from their point of generation


a giant ocean wave that forms after a volcanic eruption, submarine earthquake, or landslide

storm surge

a local rise in sea level near the shore that is caused by strong winds from a storm, such as those from a hurricane

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