20 terms

Ocean Currents

Ocean currents
Mass movement of ocean water
Like a river in the ocean
Surface currents
Move water horizontally across the earth
Driven by wind
Coriolis Effect
The shifting of winds and surface currents
Caused by the earth's rotation
Coriolis Effect
Coriolis Effect north of the equator
Causes currents to turn to the right
Coriolis Effect south of the equator
Causes currents to turn to the left
Gulf Stream
The swift, warm Atlantic current that flows from the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida, and up the east coast of North America
Gulf Stream
Warm surface currents
Originate near the equator
Release heat into the atmosphere as they flow away from the equator
Heat transfer influences climate
Cold surface currents
Originate near the poles of the earth (North Pole and South Pole)
Cold and Warm Surface Currents
Vertical circulation
Brings deep, cold water up to the ocean surface
Contains lots of nutrients and organisms
Attracts fish
Good for fishing
Density Currents
Form when seawater becomes more dense (heavier) than the surrounding water
Gravity causes denser water to sink beneath less dense water
What causes water to become more dense?
Increase in salinity (salt content)
Decrease in temperature of water
Deep Ocean Currents
also called
Deep Waters
Driven by density differences in water
As seawater freezes and turns to ice, the salt is left behind in the water
As water becomes salitier, it becomes more dense
The dense water sinks to the bottom of the ocean and moves toward the equator
Deep Ocean Currents
Also called the "Global Conveyor Belt"
Density Equation
Density of water is determined by these two things

Lower temperature = higher density
Higher salinity = higher density
Main generator of the world's surface currents
Heat from the sun