This image, derived from infrared measurements made by NASA’s Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on May 8, 2000, shows the Gulf Stream in all its glory. Cold water is shown in purple, with blue, green, yellow and red representing progressively warmer water. Temperatures range from about 7 to 22 degrees Celsius (45 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Gulf Stream is one of the strongest ocean currents on Earth and carries warm water from the sunny tropics to higher latitudes. It stretches from the Gulf of Mexico up the East Coast of the United States, departs from North America south of the Chesapeake Bay, and heads across the Atlantic to the British Isles. The water within the Gulf Stream moves at the stately pace of 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) per hour. Even though the current cools as the water travels thousands of miles, it remains strong enough to moderate the Northern European climate.