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Currents and Climate. Surface Currents (ocean). Affect water to a depth of several hundred meters Driven by winds Move in circular patterns in 5 major oceans. Because of Coriolis effect – affects wind current movements because of Earth’s rotation. Northern hemisphere – curve to right

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surface currents ocean
Surface Currents (ocean)
  • Affect water to a depth of several hundred meters
  • Driven by winds
  • Move in circular patterns in 5 major oceans.
    • Because of Coriolis effect– affects wind current movements because of Earth’s rotation.
      • Northern hemisphere – curve to right
      • Southern hemisphere – curve to left
gulf stream
Gulf Stream
  • Largest, most powerful current in the North Atlantic Ocean.
  • Caused by strong winds from the west.
  • More than 30 km wide and 300 meters deep.
  • Carries more than 100 times the amount of water in the MS river.
  • Carries water from Gulf of Mexico to Caribbean Sea, then north.
effects on climate
Effects on Climate
  • Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift cause coastal areas to have temperate climates (little change in temperatures).
  • Currents affect climate by moving cold and warm water around the globe.
  • Causes air above the current to warm or cool.
  • Winds pick up moisture as they move across warm currents.
wind patterns
Wind Patterns
  • Trade winds flow through tropics – steer tropical storms in the ocean.
  • Prevailing westerlies move air masses and fronts.
  • Jet streams – fast flowing, narrow atmospheric currents.
    • Can significantly affect climate
      • Dust Bowl in 1930s – weak stream caused drought.
      • El Niño – greater precipitation in SE U.S. and Upper Midwest
      • La Niña – greater precipitation in Pacific NW.
air masses
Air Masses
  • Tropical – warm air
  • Polar – cold air
  • Maritime – forms over oceans – wet air
  • Continental – forms over land – dry air