It's Official: the Southern Ocean Is the Fifth Ocean on Earth

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National Geographic Society's latest cartographic update now includes the Southern Ocean of Antarctica along with the other four oceans already defined (Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and the Arctic).

Specifically, on June 8, World Oceans Day, the society announced that, from now on, it would label the Southern Ocean as the fifth ocean on its maps of our planet. It is the first time it has been included since he began mapping the oceans on maps in 1915.

Characteristics of the new ocean of Antarctica

The Southern Ocean is the body of water that surrounds Antarctica and, unlike other oceans, which define their extension from the roots of the continents that limit them, the Antarctic Ocean is kept in place thanks to Circumpolar Current Antarctica, according to the National Geographic.

"Anyone who has been to that site will have a hard time explaining what is so fascinating about it, but everyone will agree that the glaciers are bluer, the air is colder, the mountains are more intimidating, and the landscapes are more captivating than anywhere else. another place you can go, " says Seth Sykora-Bodie, a marine scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Geographic Explorer, as reported by the same medium.

"The Southern Ocean has been recognized by scientists for a long time, but since there was never an international agreement, we never officially recognized it," adds Alex Tait, a geographer at the National Geographic Society.

This stream of water, which was formed 34 million years ago, flows almost freely from west to east around Antarctica, because at lower latitudes the continental mass is smaller than in the Arctic.

This ocean carries more water than any other ocean current and draws water from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, helping power a global circulation system known as the conveyor belt, which carries heat around the planet.

In addition, it is a key factor for other places ecologically speaking, as humpback whales, for example, feed on krill off Antarctica and migrate north to overwinter in very different ecosystems off South and Central America.

In fact, it also has a crucial impact on Earth's climate, as cold, dense water that sinks to the bottom of the ocean helps store carbon deep in the ocean.

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