Shape of the Ocean Basin

There are five major ocean-wide gyres — the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, and Indian Ocean gyres. Each is flanked by a strong and narrow western boundary current, and a weak and broad eastern boundary current. When a surface current collides with land, the current must change direction. In the figure below, the Atlantic South Equatorial Current travels westward along the equator until it reaches South America. Near Brazil, some of it goes north and some goes south. Because of Coriolis effect, the water goes right in the Northern Hemisphere and left in the Southern Hemisphere.You can see on the map below the major surface ocean currents that the surface ocean currents create loops called gyres.

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current is unique because it travels uninhibited around the globe. Why is it the only current to go all the way around?



Licenses and Attributions

More Study Resources for You

Show More