21 Southern Ocean Facts: the Secrets of the World’s Wildest Ocean

The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, is a body of water in the Southern Hemisphere that encircles Antarctica.

It is the fourth-largest of the world’s five major oceans, accounting for 15% of the planet’s water. The Southern Ocean is the United States Board on Geographic Names’ newest named ocean.

Historically, only four oceans have been named: the Pacific, Indian, Atlantic, and Arctic. However, most countries, including the United States of America (USA), consider the Southern Ocean to be the fifth ocean. The International Hydrographic Organization was approached about the borders of the Southern Ocean (IHO).

Geographers assumed that the waters of the Southern Ocean were just an extension of the four oceans described. As a result, not all countries agreed on the suggested borders. The argument over its boundaries and its designation as the fifth ocean has yet to be resolved.

The Southern Ocean Facts:

The discovery:

David Henry Lewis, a New Zealander, 1972 first sailed the Antarctic region in. However, Bartolome Diaz and Ferdinand Magellan are famed for coming into contact with the chilly waters of the Southern Ocean. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) established the Southern Ocean in the year 2000.

Geographical location:

southern ocean geographical location

The Antarctic Ocean forms due to tectonic plate movements between the Antarctic and South American plates. Following the slow displacement of the two plates, a Drake passage opened, allowing the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) to form.

This current, on the other hand, is unique to the Antarctic Ocean due to its ability to flow water all the way around the continent of Antarctica.

The location:

southern ocean location

The Southern Ocean is located in the Southern Hemisphere at 60 degrees South latitude. In 60 degrees south latitude, the waters of the Southern Ocean combine with those of the South Atlantic Ocean, the South Pacific Ocean, and the Indian Ocean.

Currents in the ocean:

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which transports water fairly throughout Antarctica, moves at a rate of around 130 million cubic meters of water every second.

It is stated that the only waterways that contain the Antarctic ocean are those with fast currents. This, however, raises questions about the vocabulary of the Antarctic Ocean.

Minerals:

southern ocean minerals

Because the Southern Ocean is covered with icebergs and ice throughout the winter, many people assume that minerals such as gold will accumulate due to gravity separation.

It may also have many oil resources and gas fields on the continental fringe. Furthermore, minerals such as Manganese modules may be discovered due to the floating icebergs.

The weather:

southern ocean weather

The Southern Ocean’s climate is affected by the seasons. Summer lasts from October to February, whereas winter lasts from March to September.

Because the Southern Ocean is covered in icebergs and ice during the winter, it used to cover most of the Arctic Ocean all year. When the ice melts, the salinity and temperature change, with subfreezing temperatures cooling the air as it flows toward the equator, causing rain and storms.

Area:

The Southern Ocean covers roughly 35,000,000 square kilometers. The ocean, however, is thought to migrate centimeters away each year. The drifting was thought to be caused by the hypothesis of seafloor spreading.

It includes the waters from the continent’s northern coast to the Antarctic Convergence, a unique zone where cold water meets warm water and the latter flows beneath it.

Depth:

southern ocean depth

The depth of the Southern Ocean ranges from 4,000 to 5,000 meters. However, including the Antarctic continental shelf, its average depth is around 3,200 meters (10,700 feet). Its narrow waters range in depth from 400 to 800 meters.

Biodiversity:

The Southern Ocean is home to Blue Whales, Elephant Seals, Antarctic Krill (EuphausiaSuperba), Emperor Penguins, Giant Squids, and fish.

The ocean also supports a vast plankton community (particularly Tintinnids), which emits gas and helps water droplets spread, resulting in greater reflecting clouds. 

Many different species of mammals and birds may survive in the harsh climate of the Southern Ocean. On the other hand, they evolved the ability to dive deep and swim underwater for extended periods of time.

Environmental Concerns:

The increase in solar UV radiation caused by the Antarctic ozone hole reduces the primary productivity or phytoplankton.

Aside from that, it harms the genetic make-up of some ocean-dwelling fish. Illegal fishing of some species, such as the Patagonian tooth fish, also occurs in the region, increasing the mortality of seabirds that used to catch the tooth fish. 

The most serious consequence of global warming has been the threat to the Antarctic ocean. According to studies, if the ice sheets in the Southern Ocean melt, global sea levels might rise by up to 65 meters.

Economy/Trade:

southern ocean economy

The Southern Ocean is frequently used for cross-border seafood trafficking. Between 2013 and 2014, around 302 960 metric tons of fish were captured from the ocean, with 96 percent being Krill and 4 percent being Patagonian toothfish.

The Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) coordinates the exchange of krill fishing and other ecosystem services between the countries concerned.

Ports and harbors:

southern ocean ports and harbours

Rothera Station, Palmer Station, Villa Las Estrellas, Esperanza Base, Mawson Station, McMurdo Station, and offshore anchorages in Antarctica are the primary operational ports in the Southern Ocean.

Most ports are operated by government research stations and are not accessible to commercial or private vessels. 

Because of limited water owing to ice formation, certain places have only a few ports.

Temperature:

The Southern Ocean’s sea temperature ranges from -2 degrees Celsius to 10 degrees Celsius. During the winter, the water temperature will be below zero degrees (32 Fahrenheit). The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit in Antarctica.

Ocean currents:

The Southern Ocean has the highest average wind speed of any ocean. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is the major current of the Southern Ocean, flowing from west to east and all the way around Antarctica.

Antarctica’s circumpolar region Current may move up to 150 billion liters of water per second, which is equivalent to 150 times the amount of water contained in all of the world’s rivers.

The lowest point:

The South Sandwich Trench, at a depth of 7,235 meters (23,737 feet), is the deepest point in the Southern Ocean.

The trench is formed by the South American plate subducting beneath the South Sandwich plate. It is the lowest point in the Southern Atlantic Ocean and, after Puerto Rico, the second lowest point in the Atlantic Ocean.

Claims to territory:

There are numerous states who claim possession of Antarctic Ocean territories. Examples are Spain, the United Kingdom, Norway, South America, Argentina, and other European countries. Britain launched negotiations on the International Treaty to end the impasse, but some Latin American countries rejected it.

Smaller bodies:

Smaller bodies of water, such as seas, bays, channels, gulfs, and straits, make up the Southern Ocean. Weddell Sea, Lazarev Sea, Riiser-Larsen Sea, Cosmonauts Sea, Cooperation Sea, Mawson Sea, Dumont D’Urville Sea, Ross Sea, David Sea, and others are among the seas. The Tryoshinikova Gulf, Bransfield Strait, and the Drake Passage are among the other bodies of water.

Islands:

southern ocean islands

The Antarctic Treaty governs the islands of Antarctica. Islands in the Antarctic Area include South Orkney, South Shetland, and Peter I. However, islands in the Ross Sea include the Ballenny Islands and Scott Island.

Because of debate and uncertainty over the islands’ existence, the Southern Ocean’s territorial limits are not precisely known.

Marine Life:

Hoff crabs, sea pigs (sea cucumber), krill, and a large variety of starfish are among the marine species that live on the floor of the Southern Ocean.

These organisms were born able to adapt to the chilly waters of the Southern Ocean. The emperor penguin, the world’s largest penguin species, can also be found in the Southern Ocean.

CO2 sink:

According to research, sea ice provides an additional atmospheric carbon dioxide sink in the Southern Ocean, accounting for up to 58% of the Ocean’s total intake.

The Southern Ocean apparently contributes significantly to CO2 fluxes in the ocean. The melting of sea ice, particularly in the summer, produces a sink of atmospheric CO2.

The Roaring Forties:

The “Roaring Forties” are an area of strong westerly winds located between 40 and 50 degrees South latitude. The waves of the “Roaring Forties” are considered the largest in the world, reaching heights of up to ten stories. The strong wind speed of the “Roaring Forties” is said to be caused by a change in the earth’s rotating speed.

These 21 facts about the southern ocean are some of the best facts you will find. As told in the fairytales, the oceans are the secret chambers.

There are still many facts and things which we need to discover. We are sure that those secrets and facts will be discovered very soon.

In this article, we have learned about the various amazing facts about the Southern Ocean. To know more such facts, follow this page.

southern ocean infographic

Key Takeaways:

  1. The Southern Ocean is critical to the global climate system, regulating temperature and ocean currents worldwide.
  2. Despite its importance, the Southern Ocean is threatened by human activities such as overfishing and climate change, which affect its unique ecosystems and biodiversity.
  3. The Southern Ocean is home to many iconic species, including whales, penguins, and albatrosses, which have adapted to the region’s extreme conditions.
  4. Research and conservation efforts in the Southern Ocean are essential for understanding and protecting this vital ecosystem for future generations.
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