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Langmuir Circulation (Hydroform)

Component: Hydroform

Unique Identifier: 637

Hydroform Class Current
Hydroform Langmuir Circulation

Definition Rotational oscillatory motion of surface waters induced by wind and Coriolis deflection. This circulation is caused by the transport of a parcel of water obliquely to the direction of wind transport due to the apparent Coriolis force imparted by the rotation of the earth. In the Northern Hemisphere this vector is to the right of the wind direction, in the Southern Hemisphere, it is to the left. This causes a piling of water in cells lateral to the direction of travel. The piled water sinks to balance forces, and it also circulates to create elongated tubular circulations of water at the surface. Langmuir cells are important to productivity by circulating water through the water column, and form fronts at the junction of two Langmuir cells that are important points of aggregation and feeding of plankton and higher trophic levels (Wetzel 2001).