World Officially Welcomes the Southern Ocean as Fifth Ocean
On the occasion of World Oceans Day, National Geographic recognized a whole new ocean. The magazine has officially acknowledged the Southern Ocean, the body of water surrounding Antarctica, as the fifth ocean. It has defined the Southern Ocean as the body of water extending north from Antarctica to the latitude line 60 degrees south.
— National Geographic (@NatGeo) June 8, 2021
National Geographic has been responsible for mapping the world’s oceans: The Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. The newly named ocean is covered by an extremely fast-moving current, differentiating its waters from those of its northern counterparts.
National Geographic Society Geographer Alex Tait said,
The Southern Ocean has long been recognized by scientists, but because there was never agreement internationally, we never officially recognized it.
Known as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the flow of the current is swift and moves from west to east around Antarctica. Within its border, the waters are less saline and much colder, helping keep Antarctica at its temperature while transporting warmer waters away from the continent.
The new ocean has been recognized as an important ally in the fight against climate change. It is also ecologically different from other oceans, encompassing unique and fragile marine ecosystems that are home to wonderful marine life such as whales, penguins, and seals.
But the new ocean also faces various threats, such as industrial fishing, global warming and climate crisis. If the ocean warms by just two degrees Celsius, it could quickly reduce the ice coverage by 30 percent, harming species like penguins that rely on the ice for breeding.
National Geographic hopes that the formal recognition will attract the attention of the global community to this unique and fragile oceanic ecosystem.