1. an act or instance of welling up: an upwelling of public support; an upwelling of emotion in his voice.
  2. Oceanography. the process by which warm, less-dense surface water is drawn away from along a shore by offshore currents and replaced by cold, denser water brought up from the subsurface.

Origin of upwelling

First recorded in 1850–55; upwell + -ing1


verb (used without object)
  1. to well up, as water from a spring.

Origin of upwell

First recorded in 1880–85; up- + well2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for upwelling

Historical Examples of upwelling

  • He handed over a dime with an upwelling feeling of pity in his heart.

    Sister Carrie

    Theodore Dreiser

  • There is in man an upwelling spring of life, energy, love, whatever you like to call it.

  • Daoud tried to bring the upwelling of hope under control, to resume the Face of Steel.

  • Winter fogs, produced by upwelling cold currents, frequently blanket coastal deserts and block solar radiation.


    A. S. Walker

Word Origin and History for upwelling

1854 (adj.), 1868 (n.), from up + present participle of well (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

upwelling in Science


  1. The rising of cold, usually nutrient-rich waters from the ocean depths to the warmer, sunlit zone at the surface. Upwelling usually occurs in the subtropics along the western continental coasts, where prevailing trade winds drive the surface water away from shore, drawing deeper water upward to take its place. Because of the abundance of krill and other nutrients in the colder waters, these regions are rich feeding grounds for a variety of marine and avian species. Upwelling can also occur in the middle of oceans where cyclonic circulation is relatively permanent or where southern trade winds cross the Equator.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.