The Earth is about to have a fifth ocean. This body of water is known as the Southern Ocean by geographers. According to National Geographic, the Southern Ocean is now officially acknowledged as the Earth’s fifth one. The news arrived just in time for World Oceans Day.
Southern Ocean surrounds the Antartica; it is a significant environment for marine ecosystems and a focal point for the Southern Hemisphere. Except for the Drake Passage and the Scotia Sea, it runs from the continent’s coast to 60 degrees south latitude.
The other four oceans on Earth are the Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian.
What Set the Southern Ocean Apart?
The Southern Ocean is distinct from the other oceans. This body of water is different because of the stream that runs through it. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) has a latitudinal border of 60 degrees south and carries colder and less saline water than immediately north of the area. It has a latitudinal limit virtually identical to the Southern Ocean’s border of 60 degrees south.
As a result, according to National Geographic, the 34-million-year-old current defines the Southern Ocean environment, offering a unique home for thousands of species. The Southern Ocean is also an essential component of the Earth’s changing climate. The only global current distributes heat around the globe by utilizing water from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
However, National Geographic said water passing through the ACC is warming. Environmental groups hope that the new status would boost conservation efforts in the Southern Ocean.
The recognition from NOAA
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) acknowledged the Southern Ocean’s designation earlier this year. Even earlier, the United States Board on Geographic Names also recognized this since 1999. The Southern Ocean gained recognition on World Oceans Day; a day set aside by the United Nations to raise awareness of the ocean’s vital role in life on Earth.
The world’s oceans, which span more than 70% of the planet, produce at least half of the Earth’s oxygen, are home to the majority of the Earth’s biodiversity, and are a critical source of food and a vital driver of global economies, according to the United Nations.