Mini Lesson

Winds & Surface Currents

Mini Lesson

Review this animation showing monthly average wind speed at 10 meters above the ocean surface for our global ocean (meters per second) in 2017-2018. 

Reading the Images

  1. Orient yourself to the ocean basins, the vectors, the vector legend, and the date/time information.   
    Vector Legend: vector legend
  2. Observe primarily the data displayed for the Equator and the North Atlantic Ocean.
  3. Run the video.  (May need to replay when needed.)
  4. Answer the following questions :
    1. Observe the winds blowing across Earth’s surface.  Which direction do the winds primarily blow around the Equator?
    2. Focus your attention on the North Atlantic Ocean.  What direction are the winds primarily blowing to? 
    3. Describe the months where the intensity of the Westerlies are the strongest? (Recall, the wind speed is displayed by the length of the arrow or the vector.) 
    4. Describe the directions of winds off of the Eastern part of North America.  
  5. Winds blow from high to low pressure, and blow clockwise around areas of high pressure and counterclockwise around areas of low pressure in the Northern Hemisphere.  (These directions the wind blows around high and low pressure is opposite in the Southern Hemisphere (clockwise around lows and counterclockwise around highs).)
    1. Observe the gyre in N. Atlantic - is it a high pressure or low-pressure area? 

Connecting the Data

  1. Observe the following map of ocean surface currents.  What similarities do you notice? 

    Ocean Currents

  2. What role do winds play in the creation of surface currents? 

This animation was created using the My NASA Data Earth System Data Explorer.

Teacher Note


Teachers who are interested in receiving the answer key, please contact MND from your school email address at mynasadata@lists.nasa.gov.

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