Nationwide Geographic acknowledges Southern Ocean as fifth ocean

ANTARCTICA, FEBRUARY 2016: Stunning icebergs the size of small countries threaten to collapse, taken in February 2016, Antarctica. (Credit: Freedive Antarctica / Barcroft M / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

For the primary time since starting to make maps greater than a century in the past, the Nationwide Geographic Society mentioned it might acknowledge the Southern Ocean because the world’s fifth ocean

The nonprofit has beforehand acknowledged 4 oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic. 

The Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica, has lengthy been acknowledged by scientists, however the society’s geographer Alex Tait mentioned in an article asserting the choice that as a result of there was by no means a world consensus, the Nationwide Geographic Society had by no means formally acknowledged it.

“I’m excited we’re taking the step to formally acknowledge the Southern Ocean because the world’s fifth ocean,” Tait mentioned in an electronic mail to Fox Information on Thursday. “There’s, in fact, one interconnected world ocean however it does have areas. Historically there have been 4 areas however the waters round Antarctica type a fifth distinctive space.”


Based on the article, cartographers had deliberated over whether or not the waters had been merely extensions of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. 

Did the frigid physique of need have sufficient defining options to make it an official ocean? 

Nationwide Geographic says that the Southern Ocean is outlined by an roughly 34-million-year-old present referred to as the Antarctic Circumpolar Present (ACC). 

The waters contained in the ACC, which flows from west to east, are reportedly colder and fewer salty than northern ocean waters.

The ACC additionally transports extra water than some other ocean present, drawing in waters from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and energizing a world circulation system often known as the “conveyor belt.” 

The continually shifting system of deep-ocean circulation transports warmth all over the world, in response to the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

As well as, Nationwide Geographic famous that chilly and dense water that drops to Antarctica’s ocean ground helps to retailer carbon – a think about local weather – and that water shifting via the ACC is warming. 

“We selected to replace our Map Coverage to determine the Southern Ocean primarily resulting from its distinct ecological traits. This contains the circumpolar currents and winds that isolate Antarctica, the temperature and salinity gradients, and the realm’s ensuing affect on Earth’s local weather,” Tait mentioned, noting that bringing consideration to the oceans is an “essential a part of geography training.”

One other issue to the announcement is the ocean’s “ecologically distinct” atmosphere, with distinctive marine ecosystems presently beneath the specter of industrial fishing.

“By drawing consideration to the Southern Ocean, the Nationwide Geographic Society hopes to advertise its conservation,” the publication mentioned. 

“We hope that by recognizing the Southern Ocean because the earth’s fifth ocean will draw consideration to the distinctive protections urgently wanted on this area. This contains however just isn’t restricted to its distinctive and fragile marine ecosystems which can be residence to magnificent marine life akin to whales, penguins, seals, and fish species,” Tait . “As local weather modifications we have to present protected areas in all of the ocean’s areas, together with the Southern Ocean.”

ANTARCTICA, FEBRUARY 2016: Stunning icebergs the size of small countries threaten to collapse, taken in February 2016, Antarctica. (Credit: Freedive Antarctica / Barcroft M / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

ANTARCTICA, FEBRUARY 2016: Beautiful icebergs the dimensions of small nations threaten to break down, taken in February 2016, Antarctica. (Credit score: Freedive Antarctica / Barcroft M / Barcroft Media by way of Getty Photographs)

Oceans, comprised of saltwater, cowl greater than 70% of Earth and an estimated 97% of the planet’s water is discovered within the ocean.

So far, greater than 80% of the world’s ocean has by no means been mapped or explored.

Whereas the Nationwide Geographic Society has been updating its maps for many years, massive revisions are unusual and, typically, the maps comply with the Worldwide Hydrographic Group’s (IHO) steering on marine names.


Whereas the IHO – which works with the United Nations Group of Specialists on Geographical Names – acknowledged the Southern Ocean in 1937, it reversed course in 1953.

Conversely, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names has used the identify since 1999. 

In February, NOAA formally acknowledged the Southern Ocean as effectively.

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