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Geology LibreTexts

7: Ocean Circulation

An ocean current is a continuous, directed movement of seawater generated by forces acting upon this mean flow, such as breaking waves, wind, the Coriolis effect, cabbeling, temperature and salinity differences, while tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon. Depth contours, shoreline configurations, and interactions with other currents influence a current's direction and strength.

Section Outline

 

I. Effect of atmospheric circulation on water, and coriolis effect

Eckman transport

II. Major Gyres

III. Major Currents within Gyres

Western Boundary Currents

Eastern Boundary Currents

Upwelling

Equatorial Upwelling

IV. Density Differences - Salinity and Temperature of Ocean 

V. Thermohaline Circulation

Locations of Deepwater formation

Locations of Intermediate Water formation

Transit of water through the ocean

Accumulation of nutrients, carbon & depletion of oxygen

VI. Meridional Overturning Circulation + Wind Driven Circulation - the global movement of heat and salt

 

 

 

Some sources for intro to wind driven circulation, mostly coriolis effect and ekman transport.  Also includes some multimedia stuff.

https://www.e-education.psu.edu/earth540/content/c4_p3.html 

Coriolis Effect and Ekman Transport.  Short, but has links to other good information, including:

http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/glossary/coriolis_effect.html Nice explanation of Coriolis Effect with good images, but appears to be possibly illegally copy-pasted from Encyclopedia Brittanica

http://www.classzone.com/books/earth_science/terc/content/visualizations/es1904/es1904page01.cfm really excellent animations of coriolis effect showing expected/true paths when intending to move along a line of longitude

 

http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Water/ekman.html good history of Ekman transport discovery, but explanation relatively poor

http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Water/ocean_upwelling.html very nice gif of upwelling!  Also briefly explains downwelling.

http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/global_circulation_lsop_video.html Downloadable video about circulation.  Long, didn’t watch through all the way but looks like good material.

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mechanical-engineering/2-011-introduction-to-ocean-science-and-engineering-spring-2006/readings/ekman.pdf Not sure if this counts as open source, but has some cool math stuff that explains Ekman transport.  Also compares the theory behind it to what actually happens.

https://pangea.stanford.edu/courses/EESS146Bweb/Lecture%205.pdf Mostly images and math, may not be a good source.

http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/ocng_textbook/chapter09/chapter09_03.htm  More math and nice explanations of calculations.  Has links to more explanation and to history.