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In oceanography, a sverdrup (symbol: Sv) is a non-SI unit of flow, with 1 Sv equal to 1,000,000 cubic metres per second (264,000,000 USgal/s).[1][2] It is used almost exclusively in oceanography to measure the volumetric rate of transport of ocean currents. It is named after Harald Sverdrup. It should not be confused with SI unit sievert or the non-SI svedberg, which use the same symbol.

In the context of ocean currents, one million cubic meters per second may be most easily imagined as a "slice" of ocean, 1 km wide x 1 km deep x 1 m thick. At this scale, these units can be more easily compared in terms of width of the current (several km), depth (hundreds of meters), and current speed (as meters per second). Thus, a hypothetical current 50 km wide, 500 m (0.5 km) deep, and moving at 2 m/s would transport 50 Sv of water.


The water transport in the Gulf Stream gradually increases from 30 Sv in the Florida Current to a maximum of 150 Sv south of Newfoundland at 55°W longitude.[3]

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, at approximately 125 Sv, is the largest ocean current.[4]

The entire global input of fresh water from rivers to the ocean is equal to about 1.2 Sv.[5]


  1. ^ - The National Oceanographic Partnership Program's Ocean Surface Currents website - See entry on Sverdrup
  2. ^ "Ecoworld: "Sverdrups & Brine"". Archived from the original on 20 January 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  3. ^ "The Gulf Stream". Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  4. ^ "The Antarctic Circumpolar Current". Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  5. ^ ""Lagerloef, G., Schmitt, R., Schanze, J. Kao, H-Y, 2010, The Ocean and the Global Water Cycle, Oceanography, Vol.23, No.4"". Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2017.