Mobile version

Large-scale ocean circulation

Absolute Dynamic Topography

A view of the global ocean circulation shows currents swirling around the hills and valleys at the sea surface. In the Northern Hemisphere, currents flow around hills in a clockwise direction and in an anticlockwise direction (the opposite occurs in the Southern Hemisphere) around valleys. These currents form gyres on either side of the equator. Planetary waves are other large-scale phenomena that are less easy to see on an instantaneous map, but nonetheless they too have a global impact.

Mean Dynamic Topography
The major ocean currents generated by prevailing winds are deflected from their course by the shoreline, and by the Earth's rotation. Ocean circulation thus causes water to accumulate at the western edge of ocean basins, forming reliefs in the ocean surface proportional to the speed of the currents. By measuring sea level variations, altimetry satellites enable us to observe ocean currents.
Currents around the world
Some examples of currents around the world : Gulf Stream, Kuroshio, circumpolar current, monsoon currents, South Indian Counter Current, Leeuwin current.
Rossby, Kelvin waves
These are either Rossby waves, which go from East to West or Kelvin waves which move in the opposite direction. They intensify currents such as the Gulf Stream or the Kuroshio.
Thermohaline circulation
The Greenland sea is a key zone of planetwide ocean circulation, i.e. thermohaline circulation. There, cold and salty Atlantic waters sink to the bottom of the ocean, like a waterfall. Descending, cold water mixes with ambient one, creating subsurface eddies that altimetry data analysis able us to detect.

Further information:

EnglishFrançaisEspañol
Rss feedsContactSitemapPartnersFAQGlossaryLexiconMobile
You must enable cookies in your browser preferences to save the modifications
You are using an older version of Internet Explorer, please update to take full advantage of Aviso+ features

Customize the home page

View all widgets
Reduce display
Public profile
User profile

Select/Deselect widgets

Discover AVISO+

Customizable home, reading tools, products search guide, etc.. Discover step by step the features of the new site AVISO+.

Customizable homepage

The new home page is composed of blocks called "widgets".

Rearrange the blocks with a "Click & Drop".

Hide a widget with the cross at the top right. Reset or add a widget with the "wrench" icon. The "User" and "Public" profiles offer a predefined organization.

All the modifications are automatically saved as cookies on your machine so as to enable you to have your own specific AVISO+.

Reading tools

Ease your reading by choosing the page background colour (black/white) and/or by modifying the font size.

Browsing menu and breadcrum trail

To ease your browsing through AVISO+, you can use at any time the main banner items with the interactive submenus or use the browsing menu on the left side of the screen (it is open by default). For more readiness of the page contents, you can fold and unfold the browsing menu by clicking on the tab. At any time you can know where you are thanks to the browsing menu or the breadcrum at the top of the page.

Products search guide

The first submenu of the "Data" banner item leads you to a new search form enabling you to find quickier the product that suits your needs. The list of results is updated according to your selection criteria.

AVISO+ Multimedia

The first submenu of the "Multimedia" banner item leads you to AVISO+ collections of images and videos linked to altimetry and its applications. Have a nice visit!