I am building a world that has a single giant continent and nine island chains around the equator.

I watched Artifexian's video on ocean currents and made a basic map, but it has no information regarding large islands. Do archipelagos have their own circulation as much as oceans do? I took a look at the currents in Indonesia, but I'm no expert and it didn't help me very much.

I made a very simplified map of my world, where the archipelagos are represented by larger landmasses. Could anyone help me figure out the currents on this world?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm no expert either, but my dad was a keen sailor and I gleaned from him that the ocean depth and the placement of any continental shelf could make a big difference. Also - are there icecaps to consider? Glacier's melt in any warm currents, cold fresh water sinks beneath the saline surface (I think) making a flow in a verticle plane. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermohaline_circulation $\endgroup$ Mar 3, 2019 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, there are ice caps at both poles, but only the ones on the south pole have some form of landmass beneath them in the form of islands, rest is pure ocean. $\endgroup$
    – D. Daniels
    Mar 3, 2019 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ @D.Daniels then you will have a Circumpolar superficial Current as at Antartic Ocean. earthscience.stackexchange.com/questions/14227/… $\endgroup$
    – user61971
    Mar 3, 2019 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ @D.Daniels would you mind if i bountied this question? $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2019 at 22:43

1 Answer 1


You searched at the correct place: Indonesia zone. The main difference between open oceans and archipelagos is the second ones are shallow oceans. Process there are not well understood by oceanographists, being a mixing zone between Indian and Pacific Oceans with a lot of subcurrents as shown in this graph:

Indonesian currents

Source: Wikipedia

It looks that you only consider superficial currents. This is not the entire current system. For example, at the Southern Hemisphere you have also Circumpolar Deep Water.

Antartic Deep Water schema

Source: antarticglaciers.org

Oceanic currents flux is due to differences on salinity. So surrounding the equator, as rivers contribute with salts, intermedium deep water would be formed, as happens at the Antartic Ocean or at the Mediterranean Sea.

At your world you would have two main systems, northern and souhtern one. Deep water may also be formed at poles as on Earth's Southern Hemisphere. The shallow archipelagos and the continent would be a barrier and a mixing zone.

Superificially, Coriolis Force would develop bigger basins (circles) as there would be no natural barriers for its development.

  • $\begingroup$ Can confirm these types of areas give the most trouble to oceanographers. If I was one I would elaborate, but my experience is from working adjacent to them. $\endgroup$
    – ben
    Mar 5, 2019 at 3:05
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    $\begingroup$ @ben Thierry Corrège, a known oceanographist on France told me that at a master at Bordeaux, you can count with it. Non well known process at that mixing zone. $\endgroup$
    – user61971
    Mar 5, 2019 at 9:36
  • $\begingroup$ @ben I do not have any license to check it on papers to quote it. But I opened some abstracts and looks obvious it is a tricky zone. agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2008JC004722 $\endgroup$
    – user61971
    Mar 5, 2019 at 11:43

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