Benguela Current

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The Benguela Current is the broad, northward flowing ocean current that forms the eastern portion of the South Atlantic Ocean gyre. The current extends from roughly Cape Point in the south, to the position of the Angola-Benguela Front in the north. The current is driven by the prevailing South Easterly Trade winds. Inshore of the Benguela Current proper, the south easterly winds drive coastal upwelling, forming the Benguela Upwelling System. The cold, nutrient rich waters that upwell from around 200–300 m depth in turn fuel high rates of phytoplankton growth, and sustain the productive Benguela ecosystem.

Source waters for the Benguela include Indian and South Atlantic subtropical thermocline water; saline, low-oxygen tropical Atlantic water; and cooler, fresher deep water. The Benguela current is 200 to 300 km wide and widens further as it flows north and northwest. Its western, seaward edge is ill-defined, with many temporary and seasonal eddies and meanders. There is however a well-defined thermal front between the waters associated with the Benguela Upwelling System and those of the south east Atlantic.

Where the icy Benguela and the warm, south-flowing Agulhas current mix, there is a richly productive marine ecosystem off the Cape of Good Hope but storms and turbulence above.

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