There are two type of Ocean Currents:
- Surface Currents–Surface Circulation
These waters make up about 10% of all the water in the ocean.
These waters are the upper 400 meters of the ocean.
- Deep Water Currents--Thermohaline Circulation
These waters make up the other 90% of the ocean
These waters move around the ocean basins by density driven forces and gravity.
The density difference is a function of different temperatures and salinity
These deep waters sink into the deep ocean basins at high latitudes where the temperatures are cold enough to cause the density to increase.
Ocean Currents are influenced by two types of forces
- Primary Forces-–start the water moving
The primary forces are:
- Solar Heating
2.Secondary Forces–influence where the currents flow
- Surface Circulation
Solar heating cause water to expand. Near the equator the water is about 8 centimeters high than in middle latitudes.
This cause a very slight slope and water wants to flow down the slope.
Winds blowing on the surface of the ocean push the water. Friction is the coupling between the wind and the water’s surface.
A wind blowing for 10 hours across the ocean will cause the surface waters to flow at about 2% of the wind speed.
Water will pile up in the direction the wind is blowing.Gravity will tend to pull the water down the “hill” or pile of water against the pressure gradient.