Watch surface currents circulate in this high-resolution, 3D model of the Earth's oceans.
Watch surface currents circulate in this high-resolution, 3D model of the Earth's oceans.
Driven by wind and other forces, currents on the ocean surface cover our planet. Some span hundreds to thousands of miles across vast ocean basins in well-defined flows. Others are confined to particular regions and form slow-moving, circular pools. Seen from space, the circulating waters offer a study in both chaos and order. The visualization below, based on ocean temperature, salinity, sea surface height and sea ice data collected during field observations and by NASA satellites between July 2005 and December 2007, highlights many of the world's most important ocean surface currents. Watch powerful, fast-moving currents like the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean and the Kuroshio in the Pacific Ocean carry warm waters northeastward at speeds greater than 4 mph. View coastal currents such as the Agulhas in the Southern Hemisphere transporting equatorial waters from the Indian Ocean farther southwards. Explore the image collection to compare the direction and unique flow pattern of each of these major currents.

Another multimedia item related to this story:
Perpetual Ocean (id 3827)

Short URL to This Page:
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?10841
Animation Number:
10841
Released:
2011-11-10
Completed:
2011-11-09
Animators:
Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC)
 
Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC)
Video Editor:
Scientists:
Hong Zhang (UCLA)
 
Dimitris Menemenlis (NASA/JPL CalTech)
Writer:
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


DownloadGet the iPad App!
Distinctive white lines trace the flow of surface currents around the world.
Distinctive white lines trace the flow of surface currents around the world.
>View movie
The Gulf Stream carries warm water from the eastern coastline of the United States to regions of the North Atlantic Ocean.
The Gulf Stream carries warm water from the eastern coastline of the United States to regions of the North Atlantic Ocean.
>View larger image
The Agulhas Current travels along the coastline of Mozambique and South Africa and then loops eastward.
The Agulhas Current travels along the coastline of Mozambique and South Africa and then loops eastward.
>View larger image
The Kuroshio Current flows northeast off the coast of Japan transporting warm ocean water circulating east of Taiwan.
The Kuroshio Current flows northeast off the coast of Japan transporting warm ocean water circulating east of Taiwan.
>View larger image