How Do Ocean Currents Work?

What do ocean currents do?

Ocean currents act much like a conveyor belt, transporting warm water and precipitation from the equator toward the poles and cold water from the poles back to the tropics.

Thus, ocean currents regulate global climate, helping to counteract the uneven distribution of solar radiation reaching Earth’s surface..

Why is ocean water salty?

Salt in the ocean comes from two sources: runoff from the land and openings in the seafloor. Rocks on land are the major source of salts dissolved in seawater. Rainwater that falls on land is slightly acidic, so it erodes rocks. … Ocean water seeps into cracks in the seafloor and is heated by magma from the Earth’s core.

What happens if the ocean currents stop?

If ocean currents were to stop, climate could change quite significantly, particularly in Europe and countries in the North Atlantic. In these countries, temperatures would drop, affecting humans as well as plants and animals. In turn, economies could also be affected, particularly those that involve agriculture.

Which ocean currents are warm?

Warm ocean currents flow away from the equatorial region on the western side of ocean basins. The Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic and the Kuroshio Current in the North Pacific are examples of warm currents.

How fast do ocean currents move?

The velocity of the current is fastest near the surface, with the maximum speed typically about 5.6 miles per hour (nine kilometers per hour). The average speed of the Gulf Stream, however, is four miles per hour (6.4 kilometers per hour).

What are the three main factors driving ocean currents?

Oceanic currents are driven by three main factors:The rise and fall of the tides. Tides create a current in the oceans, which are strongest near the shore, and in bays and estuaries along the coast. … Wind. Winds drive currents that are at or near the ocean’s surface. … Thermohaline circulation.

How do ocean currents move?

Ocean currents can be caused by wind, density differences in water masses caused by temperature and salinity variations, gravity, and events such as earthquakes or storms. … These currents move water masses through the deep ocean—taking nutrients, oxygen, and heat with them.

How do ocean currents work for kids?

The waves that you see crash into the shore at the beach are surface currents. They make up a small amount of the currents in the ocean. These types of currents are caused by the wind blowing across the surface of the water. When the air rubs across the water there is friction.

What are the 2 types of currents?

Direct and Alternating Current There are two different types of current in widespread use today. They are direct current, abbreviated DC, and alternating current, abbreviated AC. In a direct current, the electrons flow in one direction.

How strong can ocean currents be?

Invisible to us terrestrial creatures, an underwater current circles the globe with a force 16 times as strong as all the world’s rivers combined [source: NOAA: “Ocean”]. This deep-water current is known as the global conveyor belt and is driven by density differences in the water.

What are the 5 major ocean currents?

There are five main gyres: the North and South Pacific Subtropical Gyres, the North and South Atlantic Subtropical Gyres, and the Indian Ocean Subtropical Gyre.

How does temperature affect ocean currents?

Water expands when it warms up – heat energy makes its molecules move around more and take up more space. … When water cools, it contracts and becomes denser. Temperature and salinity both affect the density of water, resulting in water moving up or down through the ocean layers and moving as currents around the ocean.

Which ocean has the most powerful current?

Antarctic Circumpolar CurrentThe Antarctic Circumpolar Current is the strongest current system in the world oceans and the only ocean current linking all major oceans: the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.

Which zone of the ocean is the warmest?

epipelagic zoneThe epipelagic zone tends to be the warmest layer of the ocean.

How the ocean affects climate?

The oceans influence climate by absorbing solar radiation and releasing heat needed to drive the atmospheric circulation, by releasing aerosols that influence cloud cover, by emitting most of the water that falls on land as rain, by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it for years to millions of …

Where do ocean currents go?

Wind-driven surface currents (such as the Gulf Stream) travel polewards from the equatorial Atlantic Ocean, cooling en route, and eventually sinking at high latitudes (forming North Atlantic Deep Water). This dense water then flows into the ocean basins.

What are 2 types of ocean currents?

There are two type of Ocean Currents:Surface Currents–Surface Circulation.Deep Water Currents–Thermohaline Circulation.Primary Forces–start the water moving.The primary forces are:Secondary Forces–influence where the currents flow.Solar heating cause water to expand.More items…

How many types of ocean currents are there?

two typesThere are two types of currents, surface currents and deep water currents, that dictate how and where water will move.

What drives deep ocean currents?

These deep-ocean currents are driven by differences in the water’s density, which is controlled by temperature (thermo) and salinity (haline). This process is known as thermohaline circulation. In the Earth’s polar regions ocean water gets very cold, forming sea ice.

What are the two main factors that affect deep ocean currents?

Deep ocean currents are density-driven and differ from surface currents in scale, speed, and energy. Water density is affected by the temperature, salinity (saltiness), and depth of the water. The colder and saltier the ocean water, the denser it is.

What is another name for ocean currents?

What is another word for ocean current?currentdeep currentmarine currentocean circulationthermohaline circulation