The Gulf Stream is a relatively fast-moving, warm ocean current which flows north from the
straits of Florida, then northeast, off the east coast of the United States.
Its weaker, more diffuse continuation is the east-flowing North
Atlantic Drift, which is responsible for warming the climates of
western Europe. The current, often taken to include the Caribbean Current,
is fed by the North Equatorial Current, and can be viewed as the western
part of the great clockwise water circulation pattern of the North Atlantic.
The Gulf Stream was long considered to be one wide mass of water, but research
has shown that it is actually made up of many think streams which cause
local variations in water temperature.
|The warmer current of the Gulf Stream flows to the
northeast off the U.S. eastern seaboard. Image: Donna Thomas/MODIS
Ocean Group, NASA