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Geostrophic Currents
  • Subtropical gyres between western and eastern boundary currents: Coriolis force piles water up in center of gyre; sea surface up to 2 m higher than at margin of gyre



  • Dynamic topography of sea surface - Altimetry



  • Gravity tries to counterbalance piling up of water by Coriolis force
  • When gravity = Coriolis force --> water flows downhill: "geostrophic current"
  • Equatorial Countercurrent: drainage by western boundary currents insufficient to drain trade-wind driven water transport; higher sea surface at western boundary; some water is pushed to depth and flows back eastwards below the equator; since Coriolis force = 0 at equator straight current from west to east coast