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Education: Activities & Documents

Ocean Motion: Ocean Surface Winds
This data visualizer on NASA's Ocean Motion website gives access to the following global ocean surface wind behaviors between 1999 and 2009: wind speed, direction, convergence, and vorticity.

Wind speed measures how far the air moves in one second. The wind direction tells the direction of flow (shown as black arrows). Current convergence measures how strongly the current flows towards or flows away from a location. A positive convergence indicates flow inwards to a location and is evidence of upwelling. A negative convergence indicates flow outwards and may be evidence of air downwelling.

Wind vorticity measures how strongly air swirls around on the surface. Positive (negative) vorticity indicates counterclockwise (clockwise) rotation of air. Vortices in flow indicate turbulence and they are important because it causes mixing of air flows.