Nationwide Geographic: The world has a fifth ocean

(CNN) — Tens of millions of youngsters world wide have grown up memorizing fundamental info about geography: there are seven continents and 4 oceans.

Till now.

Nationwide Geographic, one of many world’s pre-eminent and most seen mapmaking teams, has formally decreed the existence of a fifth ocean. Known as the Southern Ocean, it is the physique of water that surrounds Antarctica.

This confluence of the southernmost stretches of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans has at all times been an attention-grabbing — and generally contentious — spot for oceanographers.

The choice to announce the brand new ocean coincides with the launch of Planet Doable, Nationwide Geographic’s new initiative to tell, encourage and empower folks to stay extra flippantly on the planet.

What’s in a reputation?

Often, adjustments to world maps are the results of political adjustments — for instance, Czechoslovakia splitting into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, or Swaziland voting to vary its title to Eswatini.

However as an alternative of reflecting a change on the planet, the Fifth Ocean is a uncommon instance of a mapmaker making an effort to change the planet.

Nationwide Geographic geographer Alex Tait explains why naming conventions may be so necessary.

“A part of mapping the world is utilizing place names and options which can be in widespread use amongst people who find themselves describing the world, and this will get into another issues apart from geopolitical naming,” he tells CNN Journey.

“The oceans are a kind of issues, so we need to maintain observe of how scientists, vacationers, writers, persons are utilizing place names.”

Tait is fast so as to add that though Nationwide Geographic’s prominence within the mapping world offers its official decree extra weight, others have been utilizing the time period Southern Ocean already.

“Oceanographers will in all probability rejoice that (the Southern Ocean) shall be on Nat Geo maps,” says CNN’s local weather editor Angela Fritz. She provides: “I am unable to consider any earth scientists who disagree (with the designation).”

Easy methods to make an ocean

Relating to understanding oceans, you have to begin with the fundamentals, says Tait.

“There’s one world ocean and it is all interconnected,” he notes.

“We’re actually speaking about ocean areas, and there is historically been the 4: Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic. However for a lot of, a few years, scientists and others have been utilizing the time period Southern Ocean to explain the bodily area of the ocean round Antarctica.”

So then, what makes the Southern Ocean completely different?

Tait breaks it down.

“You go from hotter waters within the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans to very chilly waters round Antarctica. After which the salinity goes down. There is a distinct fauna there, so minke whales, sure sorts of seals, penguins, fish and fowl life are plentiful within the Southern Ocean based mostly on these environmental components.”

A part of the motivation behind Nationwide Geographic’s determination to call a fifth ocean, which was introduced on World Oceans Day (June 8), was that giving a spot a reputation can even give it standing.

Ocean dialog is a large undertaking, and it is simpler to lift consciousness concerning the Southern Ocean than it’s to do the identical about “that one space of water.”

Though many international locations and organizations world wide acknowledge the Southern Ocean, not everyone seems to be on the identical web page about precisely the place it’s.

Nationwide Geographic formally makes use of the 60 diploma south latitude to attract the water border. Nonetheless, Australia considers all the pieces south of its nation the Southern Ocean.

As well as, local weather change performs a task in attempting to find out the place its borders could possibly be.

A Nationwide Geographic map reveals the Southern Ocean.

Courtesy Nationwide Geographic

Going there

French explorer and environmentalist Jean-Louis Etienne not too long ago introduced that he had invented a floating lab particularly designed for finding out the Southern Ocean.

His creation, nicknamed the Polar Pod, does not have a motor and can float within the water at a sluggish pace so as to “orbit” Antarctica and collect information.

Etienne is aiming to finish after which deploy the Polar Pod by 2024. However the Southern Ocean’s waters aren’t empty in the interim.

The Southern Ocean Carbon and Local weather Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM) undertaking, which is run by Princeton College, has despatched some 200 robotic floats into the ocean, all fitted with sensors that measure salinity, oxygen ranges, chlorophyll and different environmental information.

That stated, it’ll be laborious for normal vacationers so as to add the Southern Ocean to their bucket lists. Journey right here is tough, however not unimaginable — principally, you will want to hitch a ship going to Antarctica.

And you should definitely pack your anti-nausea tablets, as a result of the water is notoriously uneven.

Correction: A earlier model of this story misidentified the confluence of oceans now acknowledged because the Southern Ocean by Nationwide Geographic cartographers.

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