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Hey I've been trying to map out some ocean currents for a planet I'm creating, called Kalmoren. I've been following an artifexian tutorial however he seems to split gyres based on the circulation cells (at 30 degrees then again at 60 degrees). When looking at maps of earths ocean currents they don't seem to follow this pattern instead having larger gyres that extend past 30 degrees.

My question is why are earth's currents different to Artifexian's and if the currents I've come up with are realistic.

Below is my map with currents mapped and the wind patterns in the background kalmorgen map with ocean currents

And here is the world ocean currents compared with Artifexian's Artifexian

World

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    $\begingroup$ Questions about climate are some of the most difficult on this site because climate is massively complex. If you think about it, we have trouble explaining some of the currents on earth and can't reliably predict the weather a week in advance - so asking if something is climatically realistic can be difficult. Frankly, I think you've done a wonderful job creating believable currents. Go forth and rock-n-roll my friend. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 30, 2022 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah true, I just know im not an expert so maybe it was doing something obviously wrong. cheers. $\endgroup$
    – Tamrak
    Jan 31, 2022 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ basic things that you need to take into consideration: The planets rotation, the continents, and the temperature at a specific point of the planet $\endgroup$
    – Kijivu
    Feb 17, 2022 at 17:01

1 Answer 1

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There are two major drivers of oceanic circulation: the wind-based surface currents, and the temperature-based thermohaline circulation.

Artifexian's map shows pure surface currents -- something you might get from a freshwater ocean with no thermohaline circulation. Salt-driven density variations will shift, merge, and mangle these currents, producing the larger circulation cells seen on Earth.

enter image description here

For the most part, your circulations look realistic. I've highlighted a few things that seem problematic:

  • Cyan: This basin isn't really large enough to generate flow distinct from the overall flow of the ocean. Depending on local circumstances, it may be a relatively stagnant pocket (eliminate the two southern arrows), or it may be a redirection of the larger circulation (eliminate the northern arrow).
  • Green, magenta: This far from the equator, the Coriolis effect has a strong influence on the direction of flow. In order to get a counterclockwise flow in the northern hemisphere, you need a strong driver, and I don't think your polar current is enough to do it. More likely, the flow will be clockwise, and the polar circulation will be west-to-east.
  • Magenta: There's no obvious reason for this circulation to exist. If you look at Earth, currents don't just spontaneously detach from the coast. You might get a situation like the Oyashio Current meeting the Kuroshio Current off the coast of Japan to form the North Pacific Drift, but in that case, I'd expect the point of detachment to be much further north, near the easternmost point of the continent.
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  • $\begingroup$ Another thing I noticed since posting this question is two spots where the currents flow against each other, would this cause any problems? Thanks for the answer, it makes a lot of sense $\endgroup$
    – Tamrak
    Feb 18, 2022 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ It depends on the subsea topography. If the seabed is quite shallow (which I'd expect for the counterflow south of the magenta circle), there's no problem; if it's deep, the counterflows are likely to cancel out, merging the two loops into one. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Feb 18, 2022 at 23:06

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