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View Ocean Circulation around the World

Global Circulation

The world's system of ocean currents is known as the Ocean Conveyor. It distributes vast quantities of heat around the world oceans. Red arrows indicate warm surface currents driven by the wind. Blue arrows indicate the deep ocean circulation affected by differences in temperature, salinity, and density. (Animation by Jack Cook, WHOI Graphic Services)

North Atlantic Circulation

The equatorial sun warms the ocean surface and causes water to evaporate. The Gulf Stream carries the hot, salty water north (red lines) up the east coast of the United States and then across to Europe. Once the water reaches the colder latitudes, it cools and becomes denser. It therefore sinks to deeper depths and flows back south (blue lines). But this is only one part of the system that circulates water around the entire globe. (Illustration by Jack Cook, WHOI Graphic Services).


Differential Heating


Circulation Demo