Antarctic Ocean

Antarctic Ocean – Comprising the southernmost waters of the World Ocean is the Antarctic Ocean, also known as Southern Ocean or Austral Ocean. It is the fourth largest of the 5 oceans. This is where cold, northward flowing waters from Antarctic mix with warmer sub antarctic waters.

This ocean extends from the coast of Antarctica north to 60° S. For some time, the only oceans recognized by geographic circles were Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific. However, the IHO (International Hydrographic Organization) settled this debate through a 2000 publication that affirmed, named and defined the Antarctic Ocean. Limits of Oceans and Seas (S-23), published the names and locations of seas and oceans. Its third edition in 2000 confirmed the existence of the Antarctic Ocean as the 5th world ocean.

Antarctic Ocean

Antarctic Ocean

Geography

This Ocean lies approximately 7.8 million square miles and about the double the size of USA. Its lowest point is 23,737 feet below sea level in the South Sandwich Trench.

Waters of this Ocean differs from the waters in other oceans making it a reason to consider it as a separate ocean. Its waters get carried around fairly rapidly due to Antarctic Circumpolar Current which circulates around Antarctica.

Climate

The Antarctic Ocean often experiences cyclone like storms and it results from the stark contrast in the middle of the ice packs and ocean waves. They are very harsh for any sailors or marine vessels that happen to be caught in their path.

Water surface temperatures vary from -2° to 10° C. In winter, the ocean freezes away to 65° S in Pacific and 55° S in the Atlantic sector. This lowers surface temperatures well below 0°C. Continual intense drainage at some coastal points however, keep the shoreline ice free throughout the year.

Biodiversity

Marine animals present in Antarctic Ocean rely directly and indirectly on phytoplankton. Sea life like penguins, blue whales, orcas, colossal squids, and fur seals can be found here. There are also few fish species existent. Most specie found are snailfish, cod ice fish, and eelpout. They account for almost 9/10 of the nearly 320 described fish specie in Antarctic Ocean. Birds can be found on the rocky shores of mainland Antarctica. It provides nesting space for over 100 million birds every spring. This includes albatrosses, petrels, skuas, gulls, and terns. Flightless penguins are located in Southern Hemisphere while 4 of the other penguin species live on the mainland and its close offshore islands.

Economy

Producing more or less 119,898 tons in 1998 alone, fisheries are the largest amount of exports in Antarctic Ocean. This industry relies on open entry to ports along the which, during the winters months are unfortunately limited because of ice build up.

Environmental Issues

Antarctic Ocean confronts distinct ecological hazards to its natural marine ecosystems. The first is the constant ultra violet radiation that courses into the ocean from the Antarctic ozone hole causing the productivity of phytoplankton to reduce. Illegal and unreported fishing moreover affects the sustainability of stocks. International agreements regarding the world’s oceans include the and is subject specific to this region. Some of which are; International Whaling Commission, Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, and Convention of the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Antarctic Treaty protects the division of the globe 60°S thus, claims to Antarctica and all islands surrounding are suspended.

Antarctica

Antarctica – The fifth largest continent is Antarctica. With 5.4 million square miles it is about 1.3 times as large as Europe. Being the Earth’s southernmost continent located in the Antarctic Region of the Southern Hemisphere, it contains the geographic South Pole. About 98% of this continent is covered by ice sheets averaging to at least 1.6 kilometer thick. It is the coldest of Earth’s continents. As the weather makes it unbearable to live, only about 1000-5000 people inhabit Antarctica. There is no economic activity here except for fishing and small scale tourism.

Only animals adapted to dryness and low temperatures are common in Antarctica. Low temperatures and high exposure caused little biodiversity here compared to the rest of the world.

Antarctica

Antarctica

History

There are no indigenous people in Antarctica. It was also not evident that such continent existed until it was seen by humans in 19th century. According to studies, ships captained by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, Edward Bransfield, and Nathaniel Palmer sighted the ice shelves of Antarctica in 1820. It wasn’t until John Davis had the first documented landing in West Antarctic in 1821 that people confirmed its existence.

Geography

This southernmost continent in the world is surrounded by the southern ocean. It is positioned lopsidedly around the South Pole. Covering 14000000 square kilometers mainly by ice formations, it is 1.3 times the size of Europe. Rocky  make up 5% of this continent. About 44% are made of up ice shelves floating and the rest are ice walls that rest on the ground. As cold is it may seem to be, it has many active volcanoes.

This continent is positioned in the latitude where it causes it to have long periods of constant darkness and constant sunlight. UV lights reflecting to the ice surface has also caused people in Antarctica to suffer from sunburn.

Unique phenomena such as Aurora Australis wherein solar wind that passes by the earth creates some glow in the night sky is widely experience in this continent. Another is Diamond Dust where ground level cloud formation composed of tiny ice spectacles make it look like its name.

Population of Antarctica with Politics and Economy

Because there are no permanent settlers in Antarctica, it has no government. Although many countries claim sovereignty in some areas, it is considered to be a place which is politically neutral. In 1959, to regulate the activities of different countries in Antarctica, the Antarctic Treaty has been signed. This treaty aims to keep the continent as a scientific preserve.

No Economic activities take place in this continent except for fishing from small coast and a little tourism based outside Antarctica. As much as it is has deposits of coal, hydrocarbon, iron ore and some other minerals, Antarctic Treaty has restricted exploitations of them.

Biodiversity

With its extremely cold temperature, this continent is almost impossible to live in by humans and animals. Only cold acclimatized animals such as penguins, whales, orcas, seals can outstand this continent. These animals depend on phytoplanktons from Antarctic sea. Also, the low temperature, lack of sunlight and poor quality of soil has made it impossible to have extensive vegetation here. There are only about a couple different specie of flowering plants found in Antarctica and growth is rationed only during few weeks in summer.

Australia

Australia – Situated in the graphical region in Oceania, Australia is the smallest of the continents. Its total land area of 3.3 million square miles, it is home to 29 million of the world’s population and biodiversity. As the rest of the world undergoes significant cooling, Australia has its global cooling effect remain reasonably constant by its gradual movement toward the equator. For that, enormous diversity of animal, fungal and plant life have developed.

Earliest human migrations including that from out of Africa make up the original inhabitants of Australian continent. Immigration to this continent have brought overseas language that make up about 200 that they have. Large proportions of Australia belong to no region while Christianity is predominant in those practicing faith. As small continent as it is, they have Australia which is the only first world country having the largest and most dominant economy in the region. They have federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy with two major political groups that form the government.

Australia

Geography

Australia

Australia, although the world’s smallest continent is the sixth largest country in the world, encircling an extensive diversity if biogeographic regions. This continent’s geography is tremendously diverse, ranging from the snow capped mountains of Australian Alps to large deserts, tropical and temperate forests.

Having no land borders, Australia has the most area of ocean jurisdiction than any country. The total coastline in Australian mainland is 22,293 miles plus 14,825 miles from that of island coastlines. 758 of Australia’s estuaries are mostly located in the tropics and subtropics zones. The Eastern Australian temperate forests being separated relatively from the rest of the continent have the most rainfall and abundant varied flora and fauna and the densest human settlement.

Geology

There are several sections in Australia’s geology; Achaean Cratonic shield, Proterozoic fold belts and sedimentary basins, Phanerozoic sedimentary basins, and Phanerozoic metamorphic and igneous rocks. The break up of Gondwana in the Permian along with the split up of the continental land mass from the African continent and Indian subcontinent made Australia as a separate continent.

Biogeography

Most who study biogeography and zoogeography has considered Australia a realm. The moderately chilly and well-watered Great Dividing Range is the primary refuge for many species. The continent’s flora has a massive collection of species estimating to 20,000 vascular, 14,000 non vascular, 250,000 fungi and more than 3,000 lichens. The fauna also won’t fail us with a huge variety of animals. Endemic to Australia are some 83% of mammals, 89% of reptiles, 24% of fish and 93% of amphibians. The arrival and settlement of humans has had a significant impact on the continent’s flora and fauna. Land use threatens the survival of many species and to target these threats, Australia has long been passing wide range federal and state legislations and established protected areas.

Human Inhabitation

Original inhabitants of the Australian continent or the Indigenous Australians are those who migrated from Africa to Asia around 70,000 years ago and arrived in Australia around 50,000 years ago. They descended from groups that existed in Australia before British Colonization. Although the time of their arrival is still a matter of debate among researchers, it is believed that the earliest human remains found are those which have been dated to around 50,000 years BP.

Economy

The economy of Australia plays the largest and most dominant in the region and is the largest in the world. Their per-capita GDP is higher than UK, Canada, Germany, and France by terms of purchasing power parity. Important factor in Australian economy is Tourism, notably averaging to 7.4 million visitors per year. Natural resources in Papua New Guinea also account for the two thirds of their export earnings.

Atlantic Ocean

Atlantic Ocean – With an area of about 41.1 million square miles, the Atlantic Ocean, the world’s second largest ocean covers approximately 20% of the Earth’s surface and about 29% of its water surface area. This separates the Old World (Africa, Asia, and Europe) from the New World (majority of Western Hemisphere, specifically Americas).

Named after the god of Atlas from Greek mythology, its name means “seas of Atlas.”

The Atlantic is S shaped and narrow in relation to length. It isn’t the largest of the world’s oceans but, it has by far the largest drainage area. By drainage it means, both sides of the Atlantic tend to slope towards it that it receives the waters of great proportion from the major rivers of the world.

Atlantic Ocean

Atlantic Ocean

Geography

Bounded on the west by North and South Africa, Atlantic Ocean also connects to the Arctic Ocean through Denmark Strait, Norwegian Sea, Greenland Sea, and Barents Sea. Mediterranean Sea also connects with it through Strait of Gibraltar. The 20° East Meridian defines the border between Atlantic and Indian Ocean.

Present in the Atlantic are natural hazards like that of icebergs located in Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, and Northwestern Atlantic. Thick fogs and icing in extreme northern locations and hurricanes that post threat from months of May to December.

Ocean Floor

The Mid Atlantic Ridge is an immense median mountain range extending all over the length of the Atlantic it the exceptional feature of the Atlantic Floor. It claims the center third of the ocean bed attaining almost 1,000 miles in extent. The large unstable island arcs were formed by the Lesser Antilles and the South Sandwich Islands. These arcs are found in steep sided narrow gashes that drop to more than 7600 meters below sea level and more than 10,000 feet below the floors of adjacent basins.

Bordering Countries and Territories

This is the list of countries, states and territories with a coastline on Atlantic Ocean;

Ocean Water Characteristics

Latitude, current systems, and seasons that reflect the latitudinal distribution of solar energy affects Atlantic Ocean’s surface water temperatures. North of the equator gets   maximum temperatures and minimal values are being come across by the polar regions. Salinity values differ from one area of the Atlantic Ocean to another. North Atlantic is at its highest at 35.5 parts per thousand while lowest at Southern Atlantic at 34.5. The variance is the effect of the intense evaporation in the Mediterranean and the outflow from the sea.

Climate

As that of the salinity values of Atlantic Ocean, its weather is different from North and South too. North Atlantic is greatly determined by wind currents and air masses coming from North America. South Atlantic however, is the belt of prevailing westerlies.

Terrain and Natural Resources

From North to South, there’s a relatively broad area of continental shelf that have given Atlantic Ocean a proliferation of plants and animal species. There are large variety of sea weeds, algae of commercial value, and large communities of crustaceans and fishes.

The Atlantic has also been used as oceanic highways to transport goods and passengers. The first records of extensive trading linkages are from Egyptian, Greek, Phoenician and Roman Civilizations dating far back 1500AD.

Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean – Covering 27.2 million square miles or approximately 20% of the water on Earth’s surface is the third largest ocean. This body of salt water is bordered by Asia to the north, Australia and Pacific Ocean to the east, Southern Ocean to the south, and Africa and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It is geologically youngest and physically the most complex of the world’s oceans. Part of this ocean are Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea. It expanses for more than 6,200 miles between southern tips of Africa and Australia.

Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean

Geography

The International Hydrographic Organization delineated the borders of Indian Sea in 1953. It included the Southern Ocean but not the marginal seas by the northern rim. Outlining the oceanic limits of the Indian Ocean remains complicated and uncertain. The most agreed upon is that with Atlantic Ocean, that flows from Cape Agulhas to south along the 20° E meridian to the shores of Antarctica. Pacific Ocean to the southeast is frequently drawn from South East Cape by the Island of Tasmania south 147°E meridian to Antarctica. The northeastern margin is the most complicated to identify. The one settled upon runs northwest Cape Londonderry in Australia across Timor Sea, by the southern shores of Lesser Sunda Islands and of Java, then Sunda Strait to the Island of Sumatra.

Rugged and seismically active mountain chain that is part of the worldwide oceanic ridge system are what the Indian Oceans ridges consist of. It forms an inverted Y on the ocean floor, from the upper northwest of Carlsberg Ridge in the Arabian Sea turning south past the Chagos-Laccadive Plateau and converting the mid Indian Ridge. There are sea mounts that are extinct submarine volcanoes that are conically shaped and flat topped. Indian Ocean’s basins are characterized by even and flat plains of dense sediment with abyssal hills.

Bordering Countries and Territories

Climate

There are four general latitudinal climatic zones dependent on atmospheric circulation; monsoon, trade winds, subtropical and temperate, and subantarctic and Antarctic. The first zone, Monsoon Zone extends north from latitude 10° S, has monsoon climate described as semiannual reversing winds. Trade wind zone lies in the middle of 10° and 30° S. Its steady southeasterly trade winds exist throughout the year and the strongest are by months of June and September. The third zone sits in the subtropical and temperate latitudes of Southern hemisphere, between 30° to 45° S where prevailing winds are light and variable. The Subantarctic and Antarctic zone dominates the wide belt latitude 45° S and the continent of Antarctica. Constant westerly winds prevail which reaches gale forces at times with their passage through Antarctic low pressure zones.

Hydrology

Indian Ocean’s hydrological characteristics are resultant from the interaction of atmospheric conditions with the surface, sources of water, deep circulation, all of which combine to shape generally horizontal layers of water. Wind drives ocean surface circulations. In monsoon zone, surface circulation reverses every half year and features opposing gyres that are separated by the Indian subcontinent.

Trade

For more than two millennia, the lateen rigged sailing ferries called dhows were predominant in shipping within Indian Ocean. This trade was mostly important in the western Indian Ocean, where they could take advantage of the monsoon winds. Shipping in the Indian Ocean are divided in three types; dhow, dry-cargo carriers, and tankers.

Marine and other Resources

The most valuable resource is Petroleum as the Persian Gulf is the largest oil producing region in the world. Large reserves are believed to lie by the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. Indian Ocean’s greatest part lies within the tropical and temperate zones. Its shallow waters have numerous corals and other organisms efficient of building together with calcareous red algae – reef and coral islands. The phenomenon wherein the upwellings that occur in coastal parts of the Indian Ocean, most especially in the Northern Arabian Sea along the South African coast and cause nutrients to concentrate in the surface of waters, produces immense quantities of phytoplankton. These phytoplankton are basis of large inhabitants of commercially valuable marine animals.