National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

JetStream Max: Major Ocean Currents

Map of the world
All currents
Agulhas current
Alaskan current
Benguela current
Brazil current
California current
Canary current
East Australia current
Greenland current
East Drift current
Counter current
Gulf Stream
Kuroshio current
Labrador current
North Atlantic current
North Equatorial current
North Pacific current
Norwegian current
Oyashio current
Peru current
South Atlantic current
South Indian current
South Pacific current
South Equatorial current
West Drift current
West Australia current

This image will help identify the top 25 of the world's wind driven ocean currents. To view each current individually, uncheck the "All Currents" box then toggle on/off each of the other currents. Currents indicated by the red color are considered "warm" currents as they transport warm water (and heat) toward the poles. The blue colored currents indicate the transport of cold water toward the equator.

One set of currents that are not directly related to the wind are the "counter" currents. Like the name implies, these currents run counter to the prevailing wind direction but usually only in regions where the winds are weak. These currents are located along the equator and are a result of the water returning east after it was pushed west by the equatorial currents.

The reason for their motion "counter" (opposite) to the wind flow is because the northern and southern equatorial currents, pushed westward by the trade winds, pile up water in the western portion of each ocean basin. This results in a sea surface is about 0.5 meter (18 inches) higher in the western Pacific near Indonesia than it is in the eastern Pacific near South America.

Because of the pile of water, gravity causes it to flow back eastward across the ocean basin in the area where the winds are weak, which is along the equator. The same is true for the coast of Antarctica as well with the East Wind Drift current.