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The Oceans in Motion

Surface Currents

 

 

Ocean Currents Currents • large scale water movements – occur everywhere in ocean – both surface and deep • 2 main types: surface currents (10%) and subsurface currents (90%) – surface currents are primarily wind driven – subsurface currents are density driven – other forces affecting currents Coriolis effect friction gravity thermal expansion   geologic shape of ocean basin   .

Formation of Surface Currents surface currents =horizontal movement of the oceans surface waters • • driven by: a) thermal expansion & gravity. b) winds and c) combination extend to approximately 100-150m depth (depending on strength of winds) a) thermal expansion and gravity – – – – equatorial surface waters receive more solar radiation than polar surface waters warmer equatorial waters expand (thermal expansion) – higher elevation colder polar waters contract – lower elevation gravity ‘pulls’ the waters from area of higher elevation (equator) to areas of lower   elevation (poles). water moves downhill .

Formation of Surface Currents (cont’d) b) Winds – (What creates winds?) • the primary force setting surface oceans in motion – Tradewinds ‘push’ surface waters toward the equator – Westerlies ‘push’ suface waters toward the poles     .

com/books/earth_science/terc/content/visu     alizations/es1905/es1905page01.globalchange.cfm?chapter_no=visualization .html http:// www.classzone.cfm?chapter_no=visualization Wind: http://www.com/books/earth_science/terc/content/visualizations/ es1904/es1904page01.classzone.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectur es/samson/weather_patterns/Coriolis.Visualization of the Coriolis effect: http://www.

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but causes each successively deeper layer of water to be deflected as well.15a. left in S.  – wind 0 150 extends down to approximately 150m (depending on strength of winds) wind over the total 150 m depth. 4e) net flow ‘Ekman Transport’ ‘Ekman Spiral’   . the average flow of water is at a 90° angle to the direction of the wind (right in N.25a.b (Fund.b (Intro 7e) or 7.Formation of Surface Currents (cont’d) b) winds (cont’d) • add in the Coriolis Effect – doesn’t only deflect (45°) surface water that wind is in direct contact with. hemisphere) – this net flow of water is called ‘Ekman Transport’   see figs. 7. hemisphere. – called the ‘Ekman Spiral’.

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What would happened in the Northern Hemisphere?     .

Formation of Surface Currents (cont’d) c) combine effects of thermal expansion & gravity (pulling water masses) and winds (pushing water masses) • end up with circular flow – – • clockwise in the northern hemisphere counter clockwise in the southern hemisphere circular pattern flowing along the edge of basins are called ‘gyres’ Gyres = large circular.tamu.htm     .edu/students/currents/currents3. wind-driven. oceanic flow http://oceanworld.

5. 4e) NASA . 15.2 (Fund. 4.2 (Intro 7e) or 11. Atlantic Gyre N. 3. Atlantic Gyre S. N. 6. 2. Pacific Gyre S. Pacific Gyre Indian Ocean Gyre Westwind Drift (or Antarctic Circumpolar Current) 3 1 4 2 5 6     see fig.Surface Currents major surface currents: 1.

Major oceanic circulation systems     .

Other Effects of Wind on Water Movement a) convergences and divergences • convergences ~ ~ ~ ~ results when two wind-driven surface currents collide OR when a wind-driven surface current collides with a land mass results in downwelling typically areas of low nutrients and productivity two surface currents colliding   surface current colliding with land mass   .

Other Effects of Wind on Water Movement (cont’d) a) convergences and divergences (cont’d) • divergences ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ results when two wind-driven surface currents move away from each other OR when a wind-driven surface current moves away from a land mass results in upwelling typically areas of high nutrients and productivity two surface currents pushed in opposite directions   surface current pushed away from land mass   .

ocean zones: • Convergences . 8.downwelling – 5 major permanent zones of convergence  tropical convergence at equator  N.17 (Fund. tropical divergence at either side of the tropical convergence  S.Other Effects of Wind on Water Movement (cont’d) b) permanent convergences and divergences 1. subtropical convergence –mark the center of the gyres  Antarctic convergence at 50º S  Arctic convergence at 50º N • Divergences .upwelling – 3 major permanent zones of divergence  N.11 (Intro 7e) or 7. 4e)   . tropical divergence  Antarctic divergence   see figs. subtropical convergence –30° to 40° N and S  S.

Other Effects of Wind on Water Movement (cont’d) b) permanent convergences and divergences (cont’d) 2.upwelling – off west coasts of Africa and South America  Tradewinds ‘push’ water off shore  end up with divergence along the coasts  get continuous upwelling along these coasts  big fish catch!! very productive fisheries     . coastal zones: • Divergences .

Other Effects of Wind on Water Movement c) seasonal convergences and divergences coastal • off west coast of North America – winter convergence  coastal wind blows from the south  net water transport onshore (convergence)  get downwelling – summer divergence  coastal wind blows from the north  net water transport offshore (divergence)  get upwelling  i. San Francisco fisheries and fog     (cont’d) .e.