-NET Web Desk
On Tuesday, June 15, National Geographic officially recognized a large band of strait encircling Antarctica as the Southern Ocean.
National Geographic commenced drawing maps in 1915, since then it has recognized only four oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and the Arctic Ocean. With the addition Southern Ocean becomes the fifth in the list.
“The Southern Ocean has long been recognized by scientists, but because there was never agreement internationally, we never officially recognized it,” asserted National Geographic Society Geographer, Alex Tait.
Considered to be a significant change that has happened for the first time in over a century, the Southern Ocean was once considered a part of the Pacific Ocean. This newest body of water is now the world’s second-smallest ocean after the Arctic.
It is fed by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) that flows from west to east. Scientists believe that ACC was created 34 million years ago. This allowed the water to flow from the bottom of the world to the other oceans.
ACC carries water from the Pacific, Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean that helps to store carbon in the deep ocean. This makes the water around Antarctica colder and less salty, helping to transport heat.
It is the only body of water touching the three oceans and the only ocean completely embracing a continent rather than embraced by it.
However, the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), an intergovernmental agency that tracks and charts global seas and oceans has not recognised it yet. The boundaries of the Southern Ocean were proposed to the IHO in 2000, but not all IHO member countries were in agreement, the Washington Post reported.