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The Florida Current is a thermal ocean current that flows from the Straits of Florida around the Florida Peninsula and along the southeastern coast of the United States before joining the Gulf Stream Current near Cape Hatteras. Its contributing currents are the Loop Current and the Antilles Current. The current was discovered by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in 1513.
The Florida Current results from the movement of water pushed from the Atlantic into the Caribbean Sea by the rotation of the Earth (which exerts a greater force at the equator). The water piles up along Central America and flows northward through the Yucatán Channel into the Gulf of Mexico. The water is heated in the Gulf and forced out through the Florida Straits, between the Florida Keys and Cuba and flows northward along the east coast of the United States. The Florida Current is often referred to imprecisely as the Gulf Stream. In fact, the Florida Current joins the Gulf Stream off the east coast of Florida.
The Florida Current has an estimated mean transport of 30 Sv, varying seasonally and interannually by as much as 10 Sv. The volume transport increases as it flows farther north, reaching its maximum transport of 85 Sv near Cape Hatteras.
The water reaches a velocity of 1.8 m/s or 3.6 knots.
The Florida current reaches a maximum transport in July and a minimum transport in October, with a subsequent secondary maximum and minimum occurring in January and April, respectively. Shorter variations in the transport may last between 2 and 20 days depending on wind current patterns, and are shortest during the summer months.
Like transport, the spatial magnitude of the current increases along its course. At 27°N, it has a width of 80 km; it gradually increases from 120 km at 29°N to 145 km where it flows into the Gulf Stream at 73°W.
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