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7: Ocean Circulation

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    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


    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.

    Coriolis Effect and Ekman Transport. Short, but has links to other good information, including: Nice explanation of Coriolis Effect with good images, but appears to be possibly illegally copy-pasted from Encyclopedia Brittanica really excellent animations of coriolis effect showing expected/true paths when intending to move along a line of longitude good history of Ekman transport discovery, but explanation relatively poor very nice gif of upwelling! Also briefly explains downwelling. Downloadable video about circulation. Long, didn’t watch through all the way but looks like good material. 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. Mostly images and math, may not be a good source. More math and nice explanations of calculations. Has links to more explanation and to history.

    7: Ocean Circulation is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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