Meaning of Ocean Currents

Sea currents are portions of water that move driven by various factors that interrelate, forming true “rivers” within the oceans . They are formed due to differences in temperature and salinity of the water, underwater relief and variations in atmospheric pressure and their influences on the displacement of air masses and winds.

They have a small speed, usually from 5 to 10 km / h. However, due to the constant flow, they spread animal and plant species through the places they pass through, favoring the expansion and biological diversification on the planet

The currents flowing from Ecuador to the poles have hot water, such as the Gulf Stream or Gulf Stream , which rises in the West Indies, Central America. It is a warm current from the Atlantic that moves to Europe, where it exerts great climatic influence – softening the rigor of winter in some countries, mainly in the British Isles.

Types of sea currents

The hot currents are more superficial, due to the physical characteristics of the warmest waters, being able to move with more speed. When moving to cold water regions, they favor the proliferation of fish in the contact zones between waters with different temperatures.

The most important warm sea currents are:

  • the Kuroshio or Japan Current – it is a Pacific current that softens the winter in Japan;
  • the Guyana and Brazil Current – which influence the Brazilian climate on the north and east coast, respectively.

The currents that flow from the poles to Ecuador have cold waters, such as the Humboldt Current or the Peruvian Current that cools the air, reducing evaporation and atmospheric precipitation, forming an extensive coastal desert in northern Chile, the Atacama Desert.

The cold currents are deeper, depending on the physical characteristics of the waters. For this reason, they revolve the fine material deposited at the bottom of the continental shelves, consisting of decomposed organic substances and minerals. These appear on the surface, where they create special conditions for the proliferation of phytoplankton, due to the large amount of phosphate that they put in suspension. This phenomenon is known as resurgence , attracting large numbers of schools.

The deep currents that originate between Iceland and Greenland and in the Labrador Sea move counterclockwise across the Atlantic Ocean, causing cooling in the coastal areas of Canada and the USA.


In addition to playing a fundamental role in regulating climate variations, sea currents also have economic effects. They concentrate a large number and variety of schools, stimulating fishing activity. They also give speed to vessels sailing in the same direction as you.

Others, such as the hot Gulf Stream , prevent the freezing of ports in the North Atlantic (Europe) by allowing goods to flow all year round. On the other hand, the cold Labrador current migrates from the Arctic to the South and freezes the ports on the northeastern coast of North America, establishing a regulation of economic activity in the region.

Ocean Currents