Since much of the Arctic Ocean is permanently covered with solid ice or by broken ice-drifts, Arctic surface currents may be traced directly by the drift of ice-flows.
There appear to be three major circulation systems. One system originates in the Bering Strait and moves across the North Pole. One of its minor branches reaches Ellesmere Island, then the main current flows towards the Greenland Sea and into the North Atlantic via the East Greenland Current.
A second circulation is centred in the Beaufort Sea, forming a zone of stagnation (like an Arctic Sargasso Sea) in which the ice-flows slowly gyrate in a continuous closed clockwise circulation.
The third circulation divides into a number of diversionary circulations adjacent to the Siberian coastline: one branch moves towards the Greenland Sea and joins the current moving from the direction of the Bering Strait.