Global Circulation
1. Introduction

Expedition Menu

1. Introduction
2. Ocean Temperature
3. Circulation
4. Atmospheric Heat
5. Heat and Pressure
6. Atmospheric Pressure
7. Air Pressure and Wind
8. Wind Directions
9. Global Wind Patterns
10. Measuring Circulation




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Don's Introduction


Welcome back!

We will now examine the circulation or flow of the surface waters of the world's oceans.

We will first look at the layered ocean, which we examined in a previous expedition, the Briny Deep.

We will next examine the processes that influence the circulation in the surface layer, for example the distribution of heat in the atmosphere, leading to variations in atmospheric pressure.

This variation produces the patterns of wind, and the rotation of the earth adds a curve or deflection to the wind.

The wind then pushes the surface water around the ocean in larger circular currents, called gyres.

Objective of Expedition:

  • Ocean waters are constantly on the move, creating a dynamic, ever-changing system.

  • In this expedition, you will understand the processes that generate the flow of water in the ocean basins.  Currents flow in complex patterns affected by wind, the water's salinity and heat content, bottom topography, and the earth's rotation. The flow of ocean water exerts a fundamental influence on global climate on all scales and has major environmental consequences. Ocean currents influence climate and living conditions for plants and animals, even on land.

Last Updated on
March 21, 1999
Send to Don Reed
Department of Geology
San Jose State University

What is the temperature in the surface waters of the world ocean?