The Top Five Greatest Oceans

School and Education - Education

By: sukhpreet     18-Oct-2010

Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean encompasses approximately one-third of the Earth's surface, having an area of 179.7 million square kilometres (69.4 million sq mi and 161 million cubic mi) -significantly larger than Earth's entire landmass, with room for another Africa to spare. As a comparison, it is almost 400 times the size of adjacent California.Extending approximately 15,500 kilometres (9,600 mi) from the Bering Sea in the Arctic to the northern extent of the circumpolar Southern Ocean at 60° S (older definitions extend it to Antarctica's Ross Sea), the Pacific reaches its greatest east-west width at about 5°N latitude, where it stretches approximately 19,800 kilometres (12,300 mi) from Indonesia to the coast of Colombia and Peru - halfway across the world, and more than five times the diameter of the Moon. The lowest known point on earth-the Mariana Trench-lies 10,911 metres (35,797 ft) below sea level. Its average depth is 4028~4188metres (14,000 ft).The Pacific contains about 25,000 islands , the majority of which are found south of the equator. Including partially submerged islands, the figure is substantially higher.The Pacific Ocean is currently shrinking due to plate tectonics, while the Atlantic Ocean is increasing in size, by roughly an inch per year (2-3 cm/yr) on 3 sides, roughly averaging 0.2 square miles (0.5 km2) a year.

Atlantic Ocean

The Atlantic Ocean appears to be the second youngest of the five oceans. Apparently it did not exist prior to 130 million years ago, when the continents that formed from the breakup of the ancestral super continent, Pangaea, were drifting apart from seafloor spreading. The Atlantic has been extensively explored since the earliest settlements along its shores.The Vikings, the Portuguese, and the Spaniards were the most famous among early explorers. After Columbus, European exploration rapidly accelerated, and many new trade routes were established.As a result, the Atlantic became and remains the major artery between Europe and the Americas (known as transatlantic trade). Scientific explorations include the Challenger expedition, the German Meteor expedition, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the United States Navy Hydrographic Office.

Indian Ocean

The African, Indian, and Antarctic crustal plates converge in the Indian Ocean at the Rodrigues Triple Point. Their junctures are marked by branches of the mid-oceanic ridge forming an inverted Y, with the stem running south from the edge of the continental shelf near Mumbai, India. The eastern, western, and southern basins thus formed are subdivided into smaller basins by ridges.The ocean's continental shelves are narrow, averaging 200 kilometres (125 mi) in width. An exception is found off Australia's western coast, where the shelf width exceeds 1,000 kilometres (600 mi). The average depth of the ocean is 3,890 metres (12,760 ft). Its deepest point, 7258 meters deep, is in the Java Trench. North of 50° south latitude, 86% of the main basin is covered by pelagic sediments, of which more than half is globigerina ooze. The remaining 14% is layered with terrigenous sediments. Glacial outwash dominates the extreme southern latitudes.The major choke points include Bab el Mandeb, Strait of Hormuz, the Lombok Strait, the Strait of Malacca and the Palk Strait. Seas include Gulf of Aden, Andaman Sea, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Great Australian Bight, Laccadive Sea, Gulf of Mannar, Mozambique Channel, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and other tributary water bodies. It is artificially connected to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal, accessible via the Red Sea.

Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean, also known as the Great Southern Ocean, the Antarctic Ocean and the South Polar Ocean, comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60°S latitude and encircling Antarctica. It is usually regarded as the fourth-largest of the five principal oceanic divisions. This ocean zone is where cold, northward flowing waters from the Antarctic mix with warmer sub-Antarctic waters.Geographers disagree on the Southern Ocean's northern boundary or even its existence, with some considering the waters part of the South Pacific, South Atlantic, and Indian Oceans instead. Others regard the Antarctic Convergence, an ocean zone which fluctuates seasonally, as separating the Southern Ocean from other oceans, rather than the 60th parallel.The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) has not yet ratified its 2000 definition of the ocean as being south of 60°S.

Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest, and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions.The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) recognizes it as an ocean, although some oceanographers call it the Arctic Mediterranean Sea or simply the Arctic Sea, classifying it as one of the mediterranean seas of the Atlantic Ocean. Alternatively, the Arctic Ocean can be seen as the northernmost lobe of the all-encompassing World Ocean.Under the influence of the present ice age, the Arctic Ocean is contained in a polar climate characterized by persistent cold and relatively narrow annual temperature ranges. Winters are characterized by continuous darkness (polar night), cold and stable weather conditions, and clear skies; summers are characterized by continuous daylight (midnight sun), damp and foggy weather, and weak cyclones with rain or snow.

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