How many oceans are there really on Earth?

(ORDO NEWS) — It seems that the answer to this can be unambiguous – and it is. There are different opinions on this matter. Some geographers believe that there are 4 oceans, others that 5. The main question is: is there a separate Southern Ocean?

In the past, most oceanographic organizations recognized four distinct oceans: Atlantic (east of America and west of Europe and Africa) Pacific (east of Asia and Australia and west of America), Indian (south of Asia and between Africa and Australia) and the Arctic (Arctic), located along the northernmost regions of North America, Europe and Asia.

How many oceans are there really on Earth 1

According to this model, the waters north of Antarctica are the southernmost parts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.

But since at least the early 18th century, some geographers have referred to these waters as a separate ocean: the Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean.

In 1999, the US Board of Geographic Names officially began doing the same, favoring the Southern Ocean over the Antarctic. The following year, the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), which is responsible for surveying and mapping the world’s waters, followed suit.

At that time, 68 countries were members of the IHO (the number has since grown to 97), and the update has spread to various institutions around the world.

However, there is still no consensus on the specific boundaries of the Southern Ocean, and not everyone recognizes it as an ocean in general. National Geographic, for example, made changes in June 2021.

But since all oceans are connected, it would be correct to say that there is really only one ocean. This “global ocean” or “world ocean” covers about 71 percent of the Earth’s surface.

Sea and ocean: what’s the difference?

The seas are also connected to the global ocean. As the National Oceanic Service, Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, explains, a sea is essentially a relatively small body of salt water “located where land and ocean meet.”

There is one sea that is not surrounded by land: the Sargasso Sea, a part of the Atlantic Ocean that has no land boundaries, since all its boundaries are ocean currents. Other so-called “seas” are not technically considered seas because they do not connect to oceans – for example, the Caspian Sea and the Dead Sea are considered lakes.


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