Geostrophic current

Geostrophic Current

Geostrophic current

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right|400px|An example of a geostrophic flow in the Northern Hemisphere.

A geostrophic current is an oceanic flow in which the pressure gradient force is balanced by the Coriolis force. The direction of geostrophic flow is parallel to the isobars, with the high pressure to the right of the flow in the Northern Hemisphere, and the high pressure to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. This concept is familiar from weather maps, whose isobars show the direction of geostrophic flow in the atmosphere. Geostrophic flow may be either barotropic or baroclinic. A geostrophic current may also be thought of as a rotating shallow water wave with a frequency of zero. The principal of geostrophy is useful to oceanographers because it allows them to infer ocean currents from measurements of the sea surface height (by satellite altimeters) or from vertical profiles of seawater density taken by ships or autonomous buoys. The major currents of the world's oceans, such as the Gulf Stream, the Kuroshio Current, the Agulhas Current, and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, are all approximately in geostrophic balance and are examples of geostrophic currents.

Simple explanation

Sea water naturally wants to move from a region of high pressure (or high sea level) to a region of low pressure (or low sea level). The force pushing the water towards the low pressure region is called the pressure gradient force. In a geostrophic flow, instead of water moving from a region of high pressure (or high sea...
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