Currents of Atlantic Ocean

The second-largest ocean, the Atlantic Ocean lies between South and North America on the west and Africa and Europe on the east. It connects the Arctic Ocean in the north and the Southern Ocean in the south.

The behaviour of ocean currents of the Atlantic Ocean influences the climatic conditions in North-western Europe and Africa. The ocean has an interconnected current powered by Earth’s rotation, wind, sun and water density.

The following article discusses the Atlantic Ocean currents to help IAS 2023 aspirants prepare. They can refer to the points mentioned below to prepare UPSC notes properly.

Prepare for the upcoming civil services exam with the set of preparation links given below:

What are the Ocean Currents of the Atlantic Ocean?

  • Equatorial Atlantic Ocean Currents

The south and north equatorial currents begin from Africa’s west coast and move from east to west under easterly trade winds.

This leads to the rising of Atlantic Ocean levels to the west by a few centimetres. The counter-equatorial current now flows between north and south equatorial current in the direction from west to east.

  • Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift

The Antilles current generally creates currents that flow through Strait of Florida and mixes with south Antilles current.

The Florida current moves along the USA east coast to the Cape Hatteras. Moreover, the Gulf Stream mixes with East Greenland currents and cold Labrador near Grand Banks. It flows across Atlantic as North Atlantic Drift.

  • Antilles Current

It is the south equatorial current that gets branched into 2 segments near Brazil. A portion of the north low current enters Mexican Gulf, and south equatorial current enters the Caribbean Sea. The Antilles current passes along the West Indies to the east.

This leads to a rise in water level in Mexican Gulf from waters brought by north and south equatorial currents and the Mississippi River.

  • Norwegian current

The North Atlantic Current divides into two branches on eastern part of the ocean. It reaches British Isles and enters Arctic Ocean as Norwegian current.

Norwegian current moderates extreme climatic conditions and keeps north of Norway free from ice. Russian cargo depends on this current to move through Arctic ocean in summer.

The southerly branch flows through Azores and Spain as cold Canary current and joins north equatorial wind to form North Atlantic circuit.

  • Grand Banks

East Greenland and Labrador Current flow from Arctic Ocean into Atlantic Ocean. The Labrador Current meets the Gulf Stream by flowing across east coast of Canada.

This meeting of cold and warm currents of Atlantic Ocean leads to fog formation around Newfoundland.

The confluence of hot and cold currents produces famous fog around Newfoundland. This results in formation of extensive fishing grounds.

Also, read:

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)
List of Major Straits List of Major Local Winds Around the Globe
  • Brazil current

The south equatorial current splits into two branches in Cape de Sao Roque. North Atlantic Ocean joins low north wind and flows along with southern branch as Brazil currents.

Here the Falkland cold current mixes with Brazil current at southern tip of Brazil.

  • Benguela current

South Atlantic branch splits at tip of Africa as cold Benguela current and joins south equatorial current to complete a circuit.

Apart from learning about types of ocean currents of Atlantic Ocean, students should be aware of latest news on topic. According to the Economic Times, a report by IPCC on 9th August stated that Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation will lose its stability by end of 21st century.

Lack of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) would decrease rainfall over Europe and the cool northern hemisphere.

It can lead to El Nino causing unusual warming of surface waters in eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. These increases need for awareness among masses and a requisite solution.

Hopefully, this article on ocean currents of Atlantic Ocean will help competitive exam aspirants prepare. They can keep a tab on news articles and reports to answer the current affairs section confidently.

Additionally, checking educational portals will help them gain detailed information on the said topic.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Atlantic Ocean Currents


How does the wind drive current flow in the Atlantic Ocean?

Wind-driven surface currents travel from equatorial Atlantic Ocean and form North Atlantic Deep Water.


What has led to decline in AMOC?

The decline in AMOC is caused by global warming that has weakened ocean systems worldwide.


What is the function of AMOC?

It is an Atlantic branch of ocean conveyor belt that distributes nutrients and heat throughout the world’s ocean basins.

Other Related Links
What is an ocean current? What are the effects of ocean currents?
Characteristics of Ocean Waves Horizontal and Vertical Distribution Salinity
Difference between Sea and Ocean Oceanic Landforms

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