Western boundary currents

Shiro Imawaki, Amy S. Bower, Lisa Beal, Bo Qiu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

45 Scopus citations


Strong, persistent currents along the western boundaries of the world's major ocean basins are called "western boundary currents" (WBCs). This chapter describes the structure and dynamics of WBCs, their roles in basin-scale circulation, regional variability, and their influence on atmosphere and climate. WBCs are largely a manifestation of wind-driven circulation; they compensate the meridional Sverdrup transport induced by the winds over the ocean interior. Some WBCs also play a role in the global thermohaline circulation, through inter-gyre and inter-basin water exchanges. After separation from the boundary, most WBCs have zonal extensions, which exhibit high eddy kinetic energy due to flow instabilities, and large surface fluxes of heat and carbon dioxide. The WBCs described here in detail are the Gulf Stream, Brazil and Malvinas Currents in the Atlantic, the Somali and Agulhas Currents in the Indian, and the Kuroshio and East Australian Current in the Pacific Ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Geophysics
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages34
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameInternational Geophysics
ISSN (Print)0074-6142


  • Agulhas Current
  • Brazil Current
  • East Australian Current
  • Gulf Stream
  • Kuroshio
  • Recirculation
  • Subtropical gyre
  • Thermohaline circulation
  • Transport
  • Western boundary current
  • Wind-driven circulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics


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