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Southern Ocean


Earth Ocean ::-- Arctic Ocean||Indian Ocean|| Pacific Ocean||Southern Ocean||Atlantic Ocean||


Great 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 many considering the waters part of the Pacific, 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. Australian authorities regard the Southern Ocean as lying immediately south of Australia.
The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) has not yet ratified its 2000 definition of the ocean as being south of 60°S. Its latest published definition of oceans dates from 1953; this does not include the Southern Ocean. However, the more recent definition is used by the IHO and others.



Southern Ocean Geography

The Southern Ocean includes the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (which circulates around Antarctica) and parts of the Drake Passage, a part of the Scotia Sea, the Weddell Sea, the King Haakon VII Sea, the Lazarev Sea, the Riiser-Larsen Sea, the Cosmonaut Sea, the Cooperation Sea, the Davis Sea, the Mawson Sea, the D'Urville Sea, the Somov Sea the Ross Sea, the Amundsen Sea, and the Bellingshausen Sea (in clockwise order).
The Southern Ocean differs from the other oceans in that its largest boundary, the northern boundary, does not abut a landmass, but merges into the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. This calls into question why geographers should consider the Southern Ocean a separate ocean, as opposed to a southward extension of the other three oceans. One reason stems from the fact that much of the water of the Southern Ocean differs from the water in the other oceans. Because of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, that water gets transported around the Southern Ocean fairly rapidly, so that the water in the Southern Ocean south of, for example, New Zealand, resembles the water in the Southern Ocean south of South America more closely than it resembles the water in the Pacific Ocean.
Several processes operate along the coast of Antarctica to produce, in the Southern Ocean, types of water masses not produced elsewhere in the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere. One of these is the Antarctic Bottom Water, a very cold, highly saline, dense water that forms under sea ice.
The Southern Ocean, geologically the youngest of the oceans, formed when Antarctica and South America moved apart, opening the Drake Passage, roughly 30 million years ago. The separation of the continents allowed the formation of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.



Features

The Southern Ocean lies in the Southern Hemisphere. It has typical depths of between 4,000 and 5,000 meters (13,000 to 16,000 ft) over most of its extent with only limited areas of shallow water. The Antarctic continental shelf appears generally narrow and unusually deep, its edge lying at depths up to 800 meters (2,600 ft), compared to a global mean of 133 meters (436 ft).
Equinox to equinox in line with the sun's seasonal influence, the Antarctic ice pack fluctuates from an average minimum of 2.6 million square kilometers (1.0×106 sq mi) in March to about 18.8 million square kilometers (7.2×106 sq mi) in September, more than a sevenfold increase in area.
The Antarctic Circumpolar Current moves perpetually eastward — chasing and joining itself, and at 21,000 kilometers (13,000 mi) in length — it comprises the world's longest ocean current, transporting 130 million cubic meters of water per second (4.6×109 cu ft/s) — 100 times the flow of all the world's rivers.
The Southern Ocean's greatest depth of 7,236 meters (23,737 ft) occurs at the southern end of the South Sandwich Trench, at 60°00'S, 024°W.


southern ocean

Ports and harbors

Major operational ports include: Rothera Station, Palmer Station, Villa Las Estrellas,Esperanza Base, Mawson Station, McMurdo Station, and offshore anchorages in Antarctica.

Few ports or harbors exist on the southern (Antarctic) coast of the Southern Ocean, since ice conditions limit use of most shores to short periods in midsummer; even then some require icebreaker escort for access. Most Antarctic ports are operated by government research stations and, except in an emergency, remain closed to commercial or private vessels; vessels in any port south of 60 degrees south are subject to inspection by Antarctic Treaty observers.

 

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