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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Oceans Five

Oceans are defined by a combination of their underlying geology, patterns of circulation, and human interaction. Just 13 years ago, a fifth ocean was "created" by defining parts of three others as a new entity, based on a prevailing current that circles Antarctica.
Click image for a better view.
As described on, the Southern Ocean was defined in the spring of 2000. What was the only ocean at that time that did not cede part of its area to the new creation? The Southern Ocean is defined by the 60th parallel of southern latitude. This is not the one shown in yellow above, which is the Antarctic Circle, and which is very close to the Antarctic coastline on the eastern side. Rather, it is the parallel that is shown between 55 and 65 degrees. This corresponds very closely to the edge of the floor in EarthView, where Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are the only parts of the globe that are not hand-painted.

Read the oceans article on for interesting information about each of the five oceans and their geographic importance. For the story about how the identity of the Atlantic Ocean came to be known so late in human history, see Biography of an Ocean (note that this article is on the archive version of our blog at its previous address, where many geography articles can be found).

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