FAQ-OceanCirculation

1. What is a “Sverdrup”?

A "Sverdrup" is a rate of transfer of water. It is equal to 264 millions of gallons per sec. This measurment is mainly used for ocean currents. The impact of these large currents can be seen across the globe! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sverdrup

2. Why are there western boundary currents?
3. List the western boundary currents for both hemispheres of the Atlantic and Pacific.

North Atlantic- Gulf Stream
South Atlantic- Brazil Current
North Pacific- Kuroshio Current
South Pacific- East Australian Current

4. Ekman currents are often associated with upwelling. Describe a situation where they could play a role in generation of mid-ocean currents.
5. What does ENSO stand for, and what causes these events?

El Nino- Southern Oscillation, which occurs when the West Pacific warm pool ceases to remain stationary and moves East across the Pacific ocean towards Peru. Warm water is less dense and therefore rests at a higher elevation than cold water in the East, so in essence the warm pool is flowing "downhill" Eastward. Once it reaches Central/South America it caps off the supply of cold water being upwelled from the deep, cutting off the nutrient source for an entire coastline of fish. Warm water brings rising air, which brings precipitation. Back in the west, the lack of a warm pool ceases precipitation and causes droughts. The effects of ENSO are far-reaching, creating meteorological disturbances all across the earth.

The following picture shows the conditions during La Nina, which represent "stable" conditions wherein the West Pacific warm pool is located in the location after which it was named: the West. El Nino conditions represent a reversal of the below conditions in Walker circulation.

Walker.jpg

Andreas: How does the text [eastward flow downhill to cap supply of cold deep upwelled water off South-America] go with the figure which shows the exact opposite?

6. Compare the force balances for the Gulf Stream and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.
7. Where do you think the most intense mesoscale eddies in the world ocean are found?
8. Which do you think have deeper signatures, cyclonic or anticyclonic eddies? Why?

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