how are ocean currents created?

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  • Cheryl
    Lv 5
    7 years ago
    Best Answer

    Ocean currents are some of the mightiest and most important cycles on the planet. They carry vast amounts of heat and water to various locations across the Earth, providing the continual changes that allow most animals and plant life to survive. While certain qualities of the ocean itself, such as its saline content and the topography of the ocean floor, affect currents, there are also a number of key outside forces responsible for move the water of our oceans.

    Definition:

    Ocean currents are the movement of the water in oceans across the world, creating cycles of flow and common ocean features such as waves and primary streams that move in set patterns across the Earth. There are two different kinds of ocean currents: surface and deep water. Surface currents affect only the top layer of water, the part of the ocean most easily moved by outside forces. Deep water currents affect the rest of the ocean, going down deep to the ocean basin itself, and are much more slow-moving, propelled only by the most powerful forces.

    Wind

    One of the most common factors affecting surface currents is the wind. It may seem at first that the wind does not have much power to move the waves or establish currents, but a wind stream pushing at the water over many miles of ocean surface can have a powerful build-up affect. Not only can the wind create powerful waves in the direction it is traveling, but it can also fight against other forces and push water in the opposite direction it is trying to travel, creating complicated current interactions.

    Heating

    The warming and cooling of the atmosphere and ocean water is one of the most powerful forces creating ocean currents. Most of these changes are related to sunlight, which warms vast tracts of the ocean and atmosphere alike, creating pockets of warm water amid cooler water. Shifts in energy occur as the warmth tries to pass from warm water to cold water. In the atmosphere, these changes create wind, and in a similar manner ocean currents are created from the slower interactions of water, creating seasonal cycles as the ocean shifts around itself.

    Earth Rotation

    The combined forces of the wind and heat transfer are always affected by the turn of the Earth, which rotates so fast that ocean currents are almost always altered by its force. The result is known as the Coriolis effect, the same effect that causes natural circling patterns to rotate in opposite directions in the north and south hemispheres. Ocean currents are also forced into circle-cycles by this effect, vast circles of water known as gyres. Which way the gyre turns also depends on which hemisphere it is formed in.

    Gravity

    Lastly, gravity adds its own touch on all ocean currents. The results of the other forces can often "pile" water up into gradual swells across the ocean. The force of gravity causes these swells to "fall" outward, adding impetus to their movement and making them much more powerful.

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  • 7 years ago

    These ocean currents are continuous,directed movement of ocean water

    generated by the forces acting upon this mean flow, such as breaking waves,

    wind,Coriolis effect,cabbeling,temperature and salinity differences and tides

    caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun.Depth contours,shoreline

    configurations and interaction with other currents influence a current's direction and

    strength.

    P/s:If you wish to know more details,it's best for you to ask a metocean engineer :)

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