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Currents and Waves


Just as the blood constantly circulates through your body, the waters of the world’s oceans don’t stay in one place. Every drop of water in the oceans circulates around the world. Winds on the oceans’ surfaces whip up waves and make currents. These currents swirl in giant whirlpools known as gyres.

Under the surface, deepwater currents also move water. Eventually, surface waves and currents meet with underwater currents. Here’s how: in the North Atlantic Ocean, the water at the surface freezes. Salt leaches into the water below. The salt and the cold cause warm surface water to become heavy and sink to the bottom. There it moves slowly. Finally, it reaches warmer waters where it rises to the surface again. This process can take hundreds of years.

Fun Facts about Currents and Waves for Kids

  • Winds in the Northern Hemisphere drive the waters in a clockwise direction. In the Southern Hemisphere, the winds drive the waters in a counter-clockwise direction.
  • The winds drive warm water from the tropics toward the poles. They drive cold water from the Arctic toward the equator.
  • In a storm, waves sometimes move in opposite directions. When these waves collide, they can create rogue waves that rise 100 feet or more out of the sea, sinking ships in their path.

Currents and Waves Vocabulary

  1. Circulate: move in a circular path
  2. Gyre: giant whirlpool
  3. Leach: seep or strain
  4. Collide: crash

Learn More All about Currents and Waves

This is the best video we found for kids to learn all about currents and waves:

A video sharing details about the waves in the ocean.

Currents and Waves Q&A

Question: Is a tsunami the same thing as a rogue wave?

Answer: Tsunamis are caused by tectonic plate movement – either by earthquakes or volcanic activity. Rogue waves are caused by winds.


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Declan, Tobin. " Waves and Currents Facts for Kids ." Easy Science for Kids, Jan 2021. Web. 26 Jan 2021. < >.

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