Page 4 - Surface Ocean Currents

Surface ocean currents are caused by winds. The direction of the currents depends on the prevailing winds and on land masses which may block or deflect the currents.

Ocean currents distribute heat around the world. In this way they have a major effect on local climates.

Warm currents (red arrows) make the climates of some regions warmer. Cool currents (blue arrows) keep nearby landmasses cooler than would be expected by latitude alone.

The best example of this is the Gulf Stream, a warm current. It distributes heat from the tropical waters near the Gulf of Mexico to Europe giving many European countries mild climates.

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