Section 2: Ocean Movement
The Coriolis Effect helps us to understand how winds affect ocean currents and aid in their movement. If the Earth did not rotate, the wind in the atmosphere would circulate in a back-and-forth pattern from north to south, but as the Earth rotates, this circulating air is deflected. This force deflects currents that are north of the equator to the right, and currents south of the equator to the left in curved paths. In 1835, a French scientist named Gustave-Gaspard Coriolis explained in mathematical terms how winds follow curved paths along the Earth. Objects that move freely on the Earth's surface, such as surface currents,experience a Coriolis force resulting from the Earth's rotation, which produces a force on winds and currents. This effect is responsible for the rotation of large hurricanes. In the northern hemisphere, hurricanesrotate counterclockwise, and in the southern hemisphere they rotate clockwise. However, water draining in sinks, tubs, or toilets DOES NOT rotate according to the Coriolis effect. The water drains based only on how the water is poured or the shape of the drain.
The Coriolis Effect. The black circle in the center represents the rotation of the Earth. The black arrows pointing inward from north, south, east and west represent the apparent deflection by the Coriolis Effect.
Section 2, Part H