You can listen to this article as a podcast on Spotify. Follow 'The Paradigm Daily' on Spotify so that you do not miss out on new episodes!
We might see changes in textbooks and atlas, as for the first time in a century a new ocean by the name - "The Southern Ocean" will be added to the chain of pre-existing 4 oceans. This landmark decision was taken on the occasion of World Ocean Day by cartographers of National Geographic Society, which define maps of various geographical terrains on this blue planet.
How did this sudden change arise in the global map?
Let's understand it in detail -
National Geographic Society is one of the scientific organisations that has been making accurate and widely accepted maps since 1915 and till now it has recognized 4 oceans, namely The Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic Ocean. And as a result even in our school life we all studied only about these 4 oceans in our Geography textbooks. But from 8 June onwards, which is observed as World Ocean Day worldwide, it will recognize the Southern Ocean as the world’s fifth ocean.
From a long time various geographers and climate scientists kept an eye on this region of southern ocean and found that it can be vividly differentiated from other 4 oceans due to its wide range of ecosystem, showing completely different flora and fauna species, along with huge differences in biodiversity, climatic conditions, glaciers, mountains, landscapes, air & water density of the region when compared with other oceans. This region of water body holds unique and fragile marine ecosystems acting as a home to seals, whales and penguins.
Thus, terming these characteristics of waters around Antarctica as "unique" and not merely an extension of cold Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. It was found fit to be declared as a new Southern Ocean.
This body of water encircling Antarctica extends in a ring from the continent's coastline to 60 degrees south latitude.
The another unique factor about this ocean is that it's defined by
Ocean current whereas other oceans are defined by its neighbouring landmass & the continents that they are fenced in.
This ocean current's name is Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) which was estimated to have formed 34 million years ago which eventually allowed the unimpeded flow of water towards the bottom i.e. southern part of earth (Antarctica). The ACC flows from west to east bringing a huge amount of water.
This ocean's notable feature is it touches the 3 oceans i.e. The Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. It completely embraces the continent of Antarctica.
But amidst all the things one question that appears -
Why does this change now ?
The answer lies in the fact of rapidly increasing conservation efforts in the Southern Ocean region.
1)Lately, this oceanic region is battling catastrophic effects of environment and human activities (Industrial fishing).
2) Global warming has also contributed to increasing the temperature of the Southern Ocean harming the native aquatic species.
3) The Southern Ocean has a deep impact on Earth's climate, as the continuously sinking cold and dense water of Antarctica helps to store carbon in the deep ocean.
Thus, by naming the new Southern Ocean the National Geographic Society hopes to promote its initiative of conserving the world's oceans for the betterment of mankind.
This article has been written by Kartik Bajare for The Paradigm
See you next time…