|equatorial current |
Either of two oceanic currents (the North and South Equatorial Currents) flowing westward on either side of the equator. The equatorial currents are driven primarily by the easterly trade winds and are separated by a narrower countercurrent flowing eastward along the equator itself. Equatorial currents are relatively shallow, involving the epipelagic zone and part of the mesopelagic zone to depths of less than 500 m (1,640 ft). They are deflected by the continental landmasses in their path, usually splitting into northward and southward flows that feed other ocean currents and form part of the oceanic gyres (large-scale spiral current systems). See more at gyre.