Elements of The Oceans:
General Information About Ocean Currents:
Ocean water is not the same everywhere an has different properties depending on the environment in which it is found. Fresh water has few dissolved salts and is found in streams and rivers. Water found in the ocean has a lot of dissolved salts in it and is called salt water. In areas where rivers flow in the oceans, called estuaries, the water is brackish and has a higher concentration of salts than the open ocean.
At the Earth's poles, the water is both very salty and very cold. These conditions make for very dense water. This water sinks and flows toward the equator along the ocean bottom. Water at the equator flows toward the poles near the surface to replace the sinking water. Both of these differences in temperature contribute to the global circulation patterns.
General Points Of Information:
- Surface currents, which affect water to a depth of several hundred meters, are driven mainly by winds.
- Deep currents are caused by differences in the density of ocean water.
- Upwelling brings up tiny ocean organisms, minerals, and other nutrients from the deeper layers of the water. Without this motion, the surface waters of the open ocean would be very scarce in nutrients.
Additional Resources For Ocean Currents:
- Ocean Currents Characteristics
- Coastal Ocean Currents
- A Map of Surface and Subsurface Ocean Currents of the World
- Detailed Information About Ocean Currents of the World
Downloadable Student Activities:
- Ocean Current Data Table Worksheet
- Ocean Packet Page One
- Ocean Packet Page Two
- Ocean Packet Page Three
- Ocean Layers Worksheet
- Salinity and Temperature Worksheet Page One
- Salinity and Temperature Worksheet Page Two