Heat, Oceans, and Climate
Ocean currents move in response to global wind patterns and Earth's rotation. Uneven heating of Earth creates global winds that form three separate bands in each of the northern and southern hemispheres. Earth receives more solar radiation at the equator than it does at the poles, and this uneven distribution of heat creates pressure differences, which in turn cause the movement of air, or wind. Earth's rotation causes fluids — both air and water — to be deflected as they move across our planet's surface. This is known as the Coriolis effect. The Coriolis effect causes winds to move in an eastward or westward direction in addition to their northward or southward flow.
Source: Teachers' Domain, What Causes the Gulf Stream?, published December 17, 2005, retrieved on February 11, 2010, http://www.teachersdomain.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.watcyc.gulfstream/
Last modified: Wednesday, 18 April 2012, 8:43 AM