North Atlantic Drift

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North Atlantic Drift

North Atlantic Drift, warm ocean current in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is a continuation of the Gulf Stream, the merging point being at lat. 40°N and long. 60°W. Off the British Isles it splits into two branches, one going south (the Canary Current) and the other going north along the coast of W and N Europe, where it exerts considerable influence upon the climate as far as northwestern Europe.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

North Atlantic Drift


(also North Atlantic Current), a warm current in the northern Atlantic Ocean; a branch of the Gulf Stream. The North Atlantic Drift originates at the Grand Banks of Newfoundland at approximately 40° N lat. and 50° W long, and flows in a northeasterly direction. As it approaches the Iceland-Faeroe Rise and the Wyville-Thompson Ridge, it splits up into the Irminger Current and the Norwegian Current.

The North Atlantic Drift forms the boundary between subtropical and polar waters, and therefore its northern margin is often called the North Atlantic polar front. The current reaches a velocity of 1–2 m/sec in the south but decreases to 10–20 cm/ sec as it flows northeast. Its depth is 1,500 m. At its greatest depth its velocity is 1–3 cm/sec. The flow rate varies greatly, from 20 million to 40 million cu ni per sec, depending on the flow rate of the Gulf Stream.

The widely meandering path of the North Atlantic Drift is associated with the formation of long-existing eddies several hundred kilometers in diameter on the current’s northern boundary. Changes in the position and flow rate of the North Atlantic Drift have a significant effect on the weather and climate of Western and Northern Europe.


Stommel, H. Gol’fstrim. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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