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Geosciences LibreTexts

9: Ocean Circulation

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  • Learning Objectives

    After reading this chapter you should:

    • know the major ocean surface currents of the world (i.e. the gyres) and how they are created
    • know the features of the Gulf Stream, including the formation of warm and cold core rings
    • understand the causes and effects of the Ekman spiral
    • understand geostrophic flow, and how it helps keep the gyres flowing even when wind dies down.
    • understand why gyre currents are more intense on the western side of the oceans – i.e. western intensification
    • know what causes upwelling and downwelling, and the impacts of these events on primary production
    • know the locations of some of the major upwelling regions on Earth
    • understand the causes and effects of ENSO events
    • understand Langmuir cells
    • understand the processes that drive thermohaline circulation
    • understand how T-S diagrams work
    • know the major global sites of deep water formation
    • be familiar with the major global water masses
    • understand how deep water circulates throughout the world ocean



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