What’s A Gyre?




Definition :  Gyre (n.)   int(v.) gyred, gyr-ing, gyres

  1. A circular or spiral form; a vortex.
  2. A circular of spiral motion; especially a circular ocean current.           

-Mirriam-Websters Dictionary


            If you take a moment to think of an object gyrating, what comes to mind? It might bring to mind gyrating hips in a latin dance, or the gyrating action of a bicycle wheel. The word gyre might bring back memories of the toy called “The Gyroscope” (Right). In a gyroscope the spinning action produces a force called “centrifugal force”, objects surrounding the center of mass will be pulled towards the outside. With Oceanic gyres however the water flow moves objects into the middle of the circulating body of water. This mock gyrating action is our enemy and our friend. Because in a good and in a bad way, free floating particles like plastic are collected into the middle. To understand this fully, we must refer to a oceanic currents map (below ).

     From this chart of the oceanic currents we see how water moves throughout the worlds Oceans. In the diagram, the lighter color blue represents the flow of warmer surface water, and the darker blue represents the colder deeper water flows. The picture of the 5 oceanic gyres below makes more sense of the locations of our oceanic gyres.

So what creates the currents? You might ask.

“Surface currents are generated largely by winds. Their patterns are determined by wind direction, Coriolis forces from the Earth’s rotation, and the position of landforms that interact with the currents.  Surface wind-driven currents generate upwelling currents in conjunction with landforms, creating deepwater currents”. http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/facts/currents.html

Here we have given the background into the world of gyres, the scientific reason for them, and how they occur on the planet. Now its your turn to go out and teach your friends, family, and familiars for that sake of our worlds gyres and water on our planet.

 Remember, Try our best to Be Plastic Free and refrain from contributing to the pollution of  the waters and inhabitants of our planets mighty Oceans.