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What is a gyre?

A gyre is a spiral or vortex of wind. It is the circular movement of currents in the ocean basin. Its movement is in the anti-clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere and clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere. Gyre is an important term in oceanography. Gyres can be caused by a number of reasons; one of them is the Coriolis force. The coriolis effect is caused because of the rotation of the earth. This effect causes a number of cyclones on the earth’s surface.

There are five very important gyres, namely the Indian Ocean gyre, the North Pacific gyre, the South Pacific gyre, the North Atlantic gyre and the South Atlantic gyre. There are a few other types of gyres as well, such as tropical gyres; these are not uniform and their movement is mostly in the east-west direction. Subtropical gyres are another type; their centers are high pressure zones because of the movement of the westerly winds in the northern side and easterly winds in the southern side. Another type of gyre is the subpolar gyre; these form at high latitudes.

Gyres are believed to contain a lot of waste in them. They contain a lot of plastic, chemical compounds, and other non-biodegradable waste products. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or rather the North Pacific gyre, is said to contain garbage twice the size of Texas, it is estimated that there is approximately 3 million tons of waste products in this gyre. This entire area is full of floating plastic. A number of global hazards can arise from this problem. Scientists are spreading awareness in hope that the countries around this region come together to raise funds to clean this patch.

It is to be noted that unlike coastal zones, the central regions of the gyres do not circulate and are relatively stable. These are nothing but huge areas of calm water. It is because of the lack of movement in the water that debris and waste products are accumulated in this region.

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Posted by madhu on May 31st, 2013 and filed under Environment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response via following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site