Credit: Licensed Image (DP)

Southern Ocean

A brand new ocean was created by the International Hydrographic Organization in 2000, called the Southern Ocean. Carving from portions in the south Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the Indian Oceans. This new ocean, wholly surrounds the Antarctica region. The average temperature of the water varies from -2°C to 10°C.

The Southern Ocean stretches from the Antarctica coast north to 60 deg. south latitude This body of water has become the fourth largest of the five oceans of the world. The Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans are larger but the Southern Ocean is larger than the Arctic. This addition of a new ocean has created gret debate, as to decide whether there should be five or four oceans on our earth.

While many consider that the world has only four oceans, namely the Arctic, Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific, people who accept the new fifth ocean, have called it the Southern Ocean or the Antarctic Ocean, as a result of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) efforts to demarcate the Southern Ocean. Naturally a debate erupted even as the IHO tried to put an end to it through its publication, Limits of Oceans and Seas (S-23), third edition, which declared, demarcated and named the newest fifth Ocean as the Southern Ocean.

The membership of the IHO is restricted to non landlocked countries, and thus it has 68 countries as members. When IHO took up the issue of the Southern Ocean, and requested its member countries as to what action has to be taken about the Southern Ocean, all the member nations responded, except for Argentina, agreeing that the ocean around the Antarctica should be formed and this oceanic region be named as the Southern Ocean. Out of the twenty eight responding member countries of IHO, eighteen countries preferred to call the new ocean, the Southern Ocean, instead of Antarctic Ocean, and hence the name, the Southern Ocean, was confirmed.

The boundaries of The Southern Ocean was considered and decided as all that part of the ocean surrounding the region of Antarctica, across all longitudinal degrees and till the 60 deb. Latitude as the northern boundary, which, incidentally, also is the boundary of the United Nations’ Antarctic Treaty. While all the member countries who responded to IHO, wanted 60 deg. south, seven members expressed preference of 50 deg. south, as the northern boundary of the Southern Ocean. Considering this, the IHO decided that as 60 deg. south, doesn’t encompass any land, while 50 deg. South, passes through South America, that 60°S should be decided as the northern boundary of the newly created Southern Ocean.

According to IHO, a lot of research connected with oceanography in recent times is concerned with circulations, due to El Nino and global warming which have raked up lot of world interest. IHO identified “Southern Circulation” as the main driver of ocean systems, which sets apart the Southern Ocean, as a distinct eco-system. IHO argues that this has promoted the term the Southern Ocean to be used to describe the huge water body lying south to the northern boundary. Thus the newest fifth Ocean of the World, the Southern Ocean, came into existence, with over 7.9 million square miles measuring twice the size of USA, becoming the fourth largest ocean. Home to the largest ocean current of the world, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the water body transports 100 times the river flows of the entire world.

Blane Perun

Blane Perun

Diver - Photographer - Traveler

Whale in Ocean