Coriolis Effect

diagram of the Coriolis Effect

How does the "Coriolis effect" relate to circulation patterns in the earth's oceans? (NOAA diagram)

Fact or Fiction – Coriolis effect results in toilet bowl water spinning clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere?  This little fable has really gotten around over the years…but truth be told, a fable it is, and therefore the answer is Fiction.

What is the Coriolis effect? Coriolis describes the perceived change in position of an intended target on the earth’s surface due to the earth’s rotation.  It is most evident at greater distances or for objects moving slowly towards a target.  Coriolis effect was described by French scientist Gustave de Coriolis in 1835.

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