The ocean interacts closely with the atmosphere. Heat from the sun, evaporative, conduction and emission forces provide energy for ocean movement, while wind and density differences provide momentum. Changes in atmospheric pressure set up wind patterns. Predominant wind patterns are among the main forces which drive circulation. The shapes of the coastline and bathymetry differences cause changes in direction (meanders) and spin-offs (gyres) from the main current. These gyres are visible in maps of sea surface temperatures of the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic and the California Current.
In this activity, students will explore how wind forces water movement and how land features can change this movement.
To become familiar with the forces which produce the circulation patterns in ocean basins and to predict current patterns or eddy development with variances in bathymetry.