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Surface ocean currents are generally wind driven and develop their typical clockwise spirals in the northern hemisphere and counter-clockwise rotation in the southern hemisphere because of the imposed wind stresses. In wind driven currents, the Ekman spiral effect results in the currents flowing at an angle to the driving winds. The areas of surface ocean currents move somewhat with the seasons; this is most notable in equatorial currents.
Ocean basins generally have a non-symmetric surface current, in that the eastern equatorward-flowing branch is broad and diffuse whereas the western poleward-flowing branch is very narrow. These western boundary currents (of which the gulf stream is an example) are a consequence of basic fluid dynamics.
Deep ocean currents are driven by density and temperature gradients. Thermohaline circulation, also known as the ocean's conveyor belt, refers to the deep ocean density-driven ocean basin currents. These currents, which flow under the surface of the ocean and are thus hidden from immediate detection, are called submarine rivers. These are currently being researched by a fleet of underwater robots called Argo. Upwelling and downwelling areas in the oceans are areas where significant vertical movement of ocean water is observed.
Surface currents make up about 10% of all the water in the ocean. Surface currents are generally restricted to the upper 400 m (1,300 ft) of the ocean. The movement of deep water in the ocean basins is by density driven forces and gravity. The density difference is a function of different temperatures and salinity. 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 measured in Sverdrup (Sv), where 1Sv is equivalent to a volume flow rate of 1,000,000 m3 (35,000,000 cu ft) per second.
Originally posted by kodiak60
reply to post by Phage
I have noticed you try and debunk everything you played that card to much how does it feel to be on the payroll of the us government.