World Ocean

World Ocean
Animated map exhibiting the world's oceanic waters. A continuous body of water encircling the Earth, the World Ocean is divided into a number of principal areas with relatively free interchange among them. Five oceanic divisions are usually reckoned: Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic, and Southern; the last two listed are sometimes consolidated into the first three.
Earth's oceans
(World Ocean)

The World Ocean, world ocean, or global ocean, is the interconnected system of the Earth's oceanic (or marine) waters, and comprises the bulk of the hydrosphere, covering almost 71% of the Earth's surface, with a total volume of 1.332 billion cubic kilometres[1].

The unity and continuity of the World Ocean, with relatively free interchange among its parts, is of fundamental importance to oceanography.[1] It is divided into a number of principal oceanic areas that are delimited by the continents and various oceanographic features: these divisions are the Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean (rarely considered a sea of the Atlantic), Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Southern Ocean (typically reckoned instead as just the southern portions of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans). In turn, oceanic waters are interspersed by many smaller seas, gulfs, and bays.

A global ocean has existed in one form or another on Earth for eons, and the notion dates back to classical antiquity (in the form of Oceanus). The contemporary concept of the World Ocean was coined by the Russian oceanographer Yuly Shokalsky in the early 20th century to describe what is basically a solitary, continuous ocean that covers and encircles most of the Earth.

While continuous, the World Ocean can be visualized as being centered on the Southern Ocean. The Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans can be seen as bays or lobes extending northward from the Southern Ocean. Further north, the Atlantic opens into the Arctic Ocean, which is connected to the Pacific by the Bering Strait:

  • The Pacific Ocean, the largest of the oceans, also reaches northward from the Southern Ocean to the Arctic Ocean. It spans the gap between Australia, Asia, the Americas and Oceania. The Pacific Ocean meets the Atlantic south of South America at Cape Horn.
  • The Atlantic Ocean, the second largest, extends from the Southern Ocean between South America, Africa, North America and Europe, to the Arctic Ocean. The Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean south of Africa at Cape Agulhas.
  • The Indian Ocean extends northward from the Southern Ocean to India, between Africa and Australia. The Indian Ocean joins the Pacific Ocean to the east, near Australia.
  • The Arctic Ocean is the smallest of the five. It joins the Atlantic near Greenland and Iceland and joins the Pacific at the Bering Strait. It overlies the North Pole, touching North America in the Western hemisphere and Scandinavia and Asia in the Eastern hemisphere. The Arctic Ocean is partially covered in sea ice, the extent of which varies according to the season. Some authorities[who?] do not consider the Arctic Ocean a bona fide ocean,[citation needed] because it is largely surrounded by land with only limited exchange of water with the other oceans. Consequently, it is considered to be a sea of the Atlantic, referred to[citation needed] as the Arctic Mediterranean Sea or Arctic Sea.
  • The Southern Ocean is a proposed ocean surrounding Antarctica, dominated by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, generally the ocean south of sixty degrees south latitude. The Southern Ocean is partially covered in sea ice, the extent of which varies according to the season. The Southern Ocean is the second smallest of the five named oceans.

The approximate shape of the World Ocean can for most purposes be treated as constant, although in fact it is not: continental drift continually changes its structure.

See also


  1. ^ Spilhaus, Athelstan F. 1942 (Jul.). "Maps of the whole world ocean." Geographical Review (American Geographical Society). Vol. 32 (3): pp. 431-5.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • world ocean — world ocean, the continuous body of water that covers most of the earth s surface, made up of three great oceans the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Indian …   Useful english dictionary

  • world ocean — all the sea waters of the Earth regarded as one ocean. Also called global sea …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • World Ocean Day — began on 8 June, 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. However, it is not an officially recognized secular holiday by the United Nations as of yet. World Ocean Day is an opportunity every year to honor the world s ocean that… …   Wikipedia

  • World Ocean Circulation Experiment —   [wəːld əʊʃn səːkju leɪʃn ɪks perɪment, englisch], Abkürzung WOCE, internationales ozeanographisches Forschungsunternehmen, das 1990 97 (Feldmessung) und bis 2002 (Auswertung) weltweit durchgeführt wird; es wird im Rahmen des World Climate… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • World Ocean Atlas — The World Ocean Atlas (WOA) is a data product of the Ocean Climate Laboratory of the National Oceanographic Data Center (U.S.). The WOA consists of a climatology of fields of in situ ocean properties for the World Ocean. It was first produced in… …   Wikipedia

  • World Ocean Atlas — Le World Ocean Atlas (Atlas de l océan mondial) est un produit du National Oceanographic Data Center (États Unis) qui dépend de la NOAA. Il est constitué de données climatologiques in situ pour l océan planétaire. Sa première publication a lieu… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • World Ocean Circulation Experiment — The World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) was a component of the international World Climate Research Program, and aimed to establish the role of the World Ocean in the Earth s climate system. WOCE s field phase ran between 1990 and 1998, and …   Wikipedia

  • World Ocean Database Project — The World Ocean Database Project, or WOD, is a project established by the World Data Center system (WDC) and the U.S. government s National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) intended to centrally store oceanographic data. In recognition of the… …   Wikipedia

  • World Ocean Network — Le World Ocean Network (en français; Réseau des océans du monde) est un organisme international sans but lucratif qui a pour mission la sauvegarde et la protection des océans. Présentation Établi en novembre 2002, son bureau se trouve à Nausicaä… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • World Ocean Review — Der World Ocean Review ist ein umfassender Bericht, der den Zustand der Weltmeere, der die Wirkungszusammenhänge zwischen dem Ozean und ökologischen, ökonomischen und gesellschaftspolitischen Bedingungen aufzeigt. Er soll die breite… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.