Ocean current

Directional mass flow of oceanic water generated by external or internal forces / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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An ocean current is a continuous, directed movement of seawater generated by a number of forces acting upon the water, including wind, the Coriolis effect, breaking waves, cabbeling, and temperature and salinity differences.[1] Depth contours, shoreline configurations, and interactions with other currents influence a current's direction and strength. Ocean currents are primarily horizontal water movements.

Ocean surface currents
Distinctive white lines trace the flow of surface currents around the world.
Visualization showing global ocean currents from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2012, at sea level, then at 2,000 m (6,600 ft) below sea level
Animation of circulation around ice shelves of Antarctica

An ocean current flows for great distances and together they create the global conveyor belt, which plays a dominant role in determining the climate of many of Earth's regions. More specifically, ocean currents influence the temperature of the regions through which they travel. For example, warm currents traveling along more temperate coasts increase the temperature of the area by warming the sea breezes that blow over them. Perhaps the most striking example is the Gulf Stream, which makes northwest Europe much more temperate for its high latitude than other areas at the same latitude. Another example is Lima, Peru, whose cooler subtropical climate contrasts with that of its surrounding tropical latitudes because of the Humboldt Current. Ocean currents are patterns of water movement that influence climate zones and weather patterns around the world. They are primarily driven by winds and by seawater density, although many other factors – including the shape and configuration of the ocean basin they flow through – influence them. The two basic types of currents – surface and deep-water currents – help define the character and flow of ocean waters across the planet.