Education: Activities & Documents

Global Winds and Ocean Currents
The surface currents of the major ocean basins show similarities to the prevailing wind systems that drive them. Contained by continental boundaries and deflected by Earth's rotation, these surface currents flow in large, roughly circular patterns called gyres. Gyres play an important role in redistributing heat from the low to middle and high latitudes, thus influencing air temperature, weather, and climate.

After completing this investigation, students should be able to (1) demonstrate the influence of wind on ocean currents, and (2) describe the typical gyre circulation of surface currents in two major ocean basins. Credit: NASA JPL.