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Ocean Facts and Basics

Here are some basic facts and information regarding the ocean as a whole:

  • Ocean (from Okeanos, a Greek god of sea and water) covers almost three quarters (71%) of the surface of the Earth.
  • This global, interconnected body of salt water, called the World Ocean, is divided by the continents and archipelagos into the following five bodies, from the largest to the smallest: the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and the Arctic Ocean. Official boundaries are defined by the International Hydrographic Organization; the Southern Ocean, though long recognized in maritime tradition, was officially sanctioned only in 2000, and is unique in being defined only by a line of latitude with no landmass boundaries.
  • Oceanographers, however, may recognize only four oceans, treating the Arctic Ocean (or the Arctic Sea) as a part of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Smaller regions of the oceans are called seas, gulfs, straits and other names.
  • The area of the World Ocean is 361 million km², its volume is 1370 million km³, and its average depth is 3790 m. This does not include seas not connected to the World Ocean, such as the Caspian Sea.
  • The total mass of the hydrosphere is about 1.4 × 1021 kg, ca. 0.023 % of the Earth's total mass.

The Ocean and Climate

  • One of the most dramatic forms of weather occurs over the oceans: tropical cyclones (also called "typhoons" and "hurricanes" depending upon where the system forms).
  • Ocean currents greatly affect Earth's climate by transferring warm or cold air and precipitation to coastal regions, where they may be carried inland by winds. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current encircles that continent, influencing the area's climate and connecting currents in several oceans.
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.


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