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You are watching: Describe the clock direction of surface currents in the northern hemisphere

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Ocean water is continually moving, and also not just in the type of waves and also tides. Ocean currents circulation like substantial rivers, sweeping along predictable paths. Some ocean currents flow at the surface; others circulation deep within water. Some currents circulation for brief distances; rather cross entire ocean basins and even circle the globe.

By moving heat from the equator toward the poles, ocean currents play an essential role in controlling the climate. S currents are likewise critically vital to sea life. They carry nutrients and food to organisms that live permanently attached in one place, and also carry reproductive cells and also ocean life to brand-new places.

Rivers flow since of gravity. What makes s currents flow?

Tides add to seaside currents that travel brief distances. Major surface s currents in the open ocean, however, are collection in motion by the wind, which drags top top the surface of the water together it blows. The water starts flow in the same direction as the wind.

But currents execute not just track the wind. Various other things, including the shape of the coastline and also the seafloor, and also most importantly the rotation that the Earth, affect the route of surface currents.

In the north Hemisphere, for example, predictable winds called trade winds punch from east to west just over the equator. The winds pull surface water with them, creating currents. Together these currents circulation westward, the Coriolis effect—a force that results from the rotation that the Earth—deflects them. The currents then bending to the right, heading north. At about 30 levels north latitude, a different set of winds, the westerlies, press the currents earlier to the east, producing a closeup of the door clockwise loop.

The exact same thing happens listed below the equator, in the southerly Hemisphere, except that here the Coriolis effect bends surface currents to the left, developing a counter-clockwise loop.

Large rotating currents that start near the equator are called subtropical gyres. There are five main gyres:the North and South Pacific Subtropical Gyres, the North and also South Atlantic Subtropical Gyres, and also the Indian s Subtropical Gyre.

These surface currents play an important role in moderating climate by transferring warmth from the equator in the direction of the poles. Subtropical gyres are likewise responsible because that concentrating plastic rubbish in particular areas of the ocean.

In contrast to wind-driven surface currents, deep-ocean currents are resulted in by distinctions in water density. The procedure that create deep currents is called thermohaline circulation—“thermo” referring to temperature and also “haline” to saltiness.

It every starts with surface currents carrying heat water phibìc from the equator. The water cools together it move into greater northern latitudes, and the more it cools, the denser that becomes.

In the phibìc Atlantic Ocean, near Iceland, the water becomes so cold the sea ice starts come form. The salt naturally existing in seawater does no become part of the ice, however. That is left behind in the ocean water that lies just under the ice, making that water extra salty and dense. The denser water sinks, and as the does, an ext ocean water moves in to to fill the room it once occupied. This water also cools and also sinks, maintaining a deep existing in motion.

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This is the begin of what scientists contact the “global conveyor belt,” a mechanism of associated deep and also surface currents that moves water roughly the globe. These currents circulate roughly the globe in a thousand-year cycle.