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Ocean Currents: Causes, Effects & the Great Ocean Conveyor.



  Oct 16, 2023

Fundamental Concepts of Ocean Currents



What is the primary cause of surface ocean currents?

The sun's heating of the Earth creates semi-permanent pressure centers near the surface. Winds blowing over these centers generate surface waves, which form surface ocean currents.

How do cold currents and warm currents differ?

Cold currents flow towards the equator along the west coasts of continents, bringing cool water from polar regions. In contrast, warm currents flow from the equator towards the poles along the east coasts, bringing warm tropical water.

How do ocean currents impact weather?

Ocean currents can significantly affect long-term weather patterns. For example, the Gulf Stream warms the winter temperatures of Norway and the British Isles by approximately 18°F compared to other regions at the same latitude.

What is the Great Ocean Conveyor?

Also called thermohaline circulation, the Great Ocean Conveyor is a deep-sea current driven by differences in water density, which is controlled by temperature (thermal) and salinity (haline).

How is water density related to ocean circulation?

In regions like the North Atlantic, when water cools to form sea ice, the extracted salts increase water density. This causes the water to sink and form a slowly southward-flowing deep-ocean current.
 
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