This image shows the five major ocean gyres. It shows that gyres rotate in a clockwise direction in the Northern hemisphere and a counter-clockwise direction in the Southern hemisphere. The black square shows the approximate location of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the red circle shows the position of the Beaufort gyre in the Arctic Ocean.
Click on image for full size
Windows Original (Original map is from Wikipedia Commons)
Have you ever played with a toy called a gyroscope? It spins around and around. Scientists use the similar word gyre to explain something that moves in a circle. There are gyres in the ocean that are huge swirling bodies of water
. They can take up a whole ocean.
In fact, the biggest ocean gyres are named for the oceans
they are found in: North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South
Pacific and Indian Ocean gyres. A simple drawing of those can be seen on this page.
One of the biggest ocean gyres, the North Pacific gyre, is home to an area called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This area contains a lot of litter! It covers an area about twice the size of Texas and contains about 3 million tons of plastic litter.
There are smaller gyres in the ocean too. One of the smaller gyres is called the Beaufort gyre and it is in the Arctic Ocean. Scientists have been studying the Beaufort gyre a lot recently because it could actually impact the climate (long-term weather patterns) in North American and Western Europe.
Ocean gyres are currents on the top of the ocean that are driven by the winds of the Earth. Ocean gyres in the Northern hemisphere rotate clockwise and gyres in the Southern hemisphere rotate counter-clockwise.
You might also be interested in:
Do you want to learn about how water moves through the Arctic Ocean? Then put your finger on the map on this page. Start on the blue line to the far left of the map. This is where water enters the Arctic...more
The water at the ocean surface is moved by powerful wind. The wind is able to move the top 400 meters of the ocean. This moving water is called surface ocean currents. Surface ocean currents form large...more
Wind is moving air. Warm air rises, and cool air comes in to take its place. This movement creates the winds around the globe. Winds move at different speeds and have different names based on their speed....more
An aquifer is the name for a layer of rock which is capable of holding a large amount of water. Some layers are better at holding water than others, for example a layer of sandstone can hold a good deal...more
Limestone is an example of a carbonate. Other examples of carbonates include calcite, dolomite, and marble. Limestone dissolves easily in rainwater, especially rainwater which is loaded with carbonic acid....more
The deep ocean waters are under pressure and are much colder than layers of the ocean which are closer to the surface. Dissolved carbon dioxide seems to be absent from the deep ocean water and as a result...more
Have you ever left a glass of water out for a long time? Did you notice that the water disappears after a few days? That's because it evaporated! Evaporation is when water passes from a liquid to a gas....more