Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX
Scotland and the Antarctic

Section 1: Background - Arctic and Antarctic ... The Nature of Antarctica

Winds and currents

image from Voyage of the Scotia

The ocean currents around the Antarctic are affected by the world's winds. The north-westerly winds which circle the continent cause a 'West Wind Drift' - an ocean current circulating the continent. This wind and current has made it very difficult to sail west through the Drake Passage - especially in the days of sailing ships.

Nearer the continent the easterly winds cause a counter-current with a special clockwise circulation in the great indentations of the Weddell and Ross Seas (see page 46 - track of Shackleton's ship Endurance).

Between the westerly winds and the easterly winds cyclones (depressions) can occur to add to the testing weather conditions for ships in the south. Many explorers have noted the change of weather as the Antarctic is approached when crossing the line of the Antarctic Convergence.

The Antarctic Convergence

50-60S
Clear skies, reasonable temperatures, deserted seas.
60-70S
Fog, freezing conditions, abundant sea life, sea colder and less saline.

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Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX