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Ocean Currents

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Ocean Currents - Lesson Summary

The water on the surface of the oceans is constantly flowing in one direction from one place to another. These flowing movements of water in oceans are called ocean currents.

Ocean currents are streams of water flowing constantly on the ocean’s surface in definite directions. They are caused by differences in the temperature and salinity of water, by wind, solar heating and gravity.

The winds majorly responsible for creating ocean currents are the Westerlies and the Trade winds. Owing to the earth's rotation, winds blow anti-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. This pattern of blowing winds is called the Coriolis effect.

Ocean currents also move in the same pattern as winds i.e. anit-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. The ocean currents can be warm or cold, depending on their origin. Warm ocean currents originate near the equator and move towards the poles or higher latitudes while cold currents originate near the poles or higher latitudes and move towards the tropics or lower latitude.

The ocean currents greatly influence the temperature of an area. In areas where warm and cold currents meet, the temperature falls, giving rise to foggy conditions. Whoever, mixing of warm and cold currents supports a rich marine life.

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