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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

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