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Question Set: Wind Generated Currents

NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas:

To answer these questions, refer to Figs. 3.13 and 3.14 and Table 3.1.

<p><strong>Fig. 3.13.</strong> Oceanic high-pressure centers and their simplified wind patterns. Individual surface currents are identified in Table 3.1.</p><br />
<p><strong>Fig. 3.14.</strong> Major surface currents of the world ocean. Individual surface currents are identified in Table 3.1.</p><br />

Table 3.1. Key to the major surface currents shown in Fig. 3.13
Abbreviation Name of Current Abbreviation Name of Current
Ag Agulhas Current K Kuroshio Current
Al Alaska Current L Labrador Current
Be Benguela Current N Norwegian Current
Br Brazil Current NA North Atlantic Current
Cal California Current NE North Equatorial Current
Can Canary Current NP North Pacific Current
EA East Australian Current O Oyashio Current
EC Equatorial Countercurrent P Peru (Humbolt) Current
EG East Greenland Current SE South Equatorial Current
F Florida Current SP South Pacific Current
G Guinea Current WA West Australian Current
GS Gulf Streem ACC Antarctic Circumpolar Current


  1. Describe the relationship between wind direction and surface current direction for the following currents in the North Pacific ocean basin:
    1. North Pacific (NP) current
    2. North equatorial (NE) current
    3. Kuroshio (K) current
    4. California (Cal) current
  2. Describe the general pattern or relationship between wind direction and surface current direction. How does this pattern change between the northern and southern hemispheres?
  3. Explain why the five oceanic highs shown in Fig. 3.13 are located in their current position. Explain you answer in terms of their latitudes and circulation cells.
  4. Why are the directions of outflowing wind from high pressure systems different in Earth’s two hemispheres?
  5. Where do you think the low-pressure centers are on Fig. 3.13? Explain your reasoning.
  6. Describe the directions of the currents that flow offshore of the east coast and the west coast of the United States. How do you think these currents affect the climates along these coasts?
  7. If you were to be cast away from a sinking ship in a raft without any paddles off the northwestern coast of Africa, where do you think you would land? List the names of the currents traveled on your voyage (using Fig. 3.14).
  8. How do you think ocean currents affect the paths of hurricanes? Explain your reasoning.
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.