A new model of surface drift currents is constructed using the full nonlinear equations of motion. This model includes the balance between Coriolis forces due to the mean and wave-induced motions and the surface wind stresses. The approach used in the analysis is similar to the work by Craik & Leibovich (1976) and Leibovich (1977), but the emphasis is on the mean motion rather than the small-scale time-dependent part of the Langmuir circulation. The final result indicates that surface currents can be generated by both the direct wind stresses, as in the classical Ekman model, and the Stokes drift, derived from the surface wave motion, in an interrelated fashion depending on a wave Ekman number E defined as
E = \Omega/\nu_ek^2_0,
where Ω is the angular velocity of the earth's rotation, νe, the eddy viscosity and k0, the wavenumber of the surface wave at the spectral peak. When E [Lt ] 1, the Langmuir mode dominates. When E [Gt ] 1, inertial motion results. The classical Ekman drift current is a special case even under the restriction E ≃ 1. On the basis of these results, a new model of the surface-layer movements for future large-scale ocean circulation studies is presented. For this new model both the wind stresses and the sea-state information are crucial inputs.