WEDNESDAY, JUNE 9TH, 2021
🖊📸 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Those familiar with the Southern Ocean, the body of water encircling Antarctica, know it’s unlike any other.
Since National Geographic began making maps in 1915, it has recognized four oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic Oceans. Starting on June 8, World Oceans Day, it will recognize the Southern Ocean as the world’s fifth ocean.
Geographers debated whether the waters around Antarctica had enough unique characteristics to deserve their own name, or whether they were simply cold, southern extensions of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.
The National Geographic Society’s map policy committee had been considering the change for years.
The change, aligns with the Society’s initiative to conserve the world’s oceans, focusing public awareness onto a region in particular need of a conservation spotlight.
While the other oceans are defined by the continents that fence them in, the Southern Ocean is defined by a current.
Scientists estimate that the Antarctic Circumpolar Current was established roughly 34 million years ago, when Antarctica separated from South America. That allowed for the unimpeded flow of water around the bottom of the Earth.