THERE'S A NEW OCEAN NOW—CAN YOU NAME ALL 5?

While there is one global interconnected ocean, this massive body of water surrounding all land masses on Earth can be further subdivided based on historical, geographic, & cultural factors.

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Oceans cover much of the Earth’s surface. About 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans and 97% of all the water found on Earth is in the ocean. To lớn put it in numbers, 321,003,271 cubic miles of water are found in the ocean, which according to lớn NOAA, can fill about 352,670,000,000,000,000,000 gallon-sized milk containers.

Why are Oceans Important?

Aside from being a huge body toàn thân of water, oceans are important to lớn the health of the Earth for many reasons. Oceans produce half of the oxygen that reaches the atmosphere and are a carbon sink, absorbing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. In other words, the world’s oceans are a huge carbon reservoir, hold more than 50 times the carbon dioxide compared to the atmosphere.


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This true-color image created by stitching together satellite imagery shows areas of the Earth that are ocean (blue). Image: NASA, 2002.

Oceans also move heat around the world, helping lớn regulate the world’s climate. Warm ocean currents move towards the poles, cool, và then return back towards the equator. This constant mixing of temperatures affects global weather patterns. (Related: How Ocean Currents Move Pollution Around the World)

The Number of Oceans Depends on How You Count Them


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A view over the South Pacific Ocean from the International Space Station. Photo: NASA, public domain

The number of oceans in the world depends on the perspective. The designation of the world’s oceans has evolved over time.

One Global Ocean

There is one global ocean. All ocean waters are connected. The world ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface.

The world ocean holds most of the water in the Earth’s systems. This part of the Earth’s systems is known as the hydrosphere. More: Water on Earth


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Icebergs float in the Southern Ocean, Antarctica. Photo: Kristina Jacob. Used with permission.

Are There 3, 4, or 5 Oceans in the World?

On Earth, there are three major oceans: the Pacific, Atlantic, và Indian oceans.

Historically, there are four ocean basins that include the three major oceans (Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian) & the Arctic Ocean. There are five oceans if you also include the Southern Ocean as a separate ocean.

The Southern Ocean is a fairly recently named addition (2000) that is not universally recognized by all countries and organizations and has yet to lớn be ratified by the international community.

For example, theU.S. Board on Geographic Namesrecognizes the Southern Ocean whileNational Geographic does not.

The video clip below explains the names và boundaries of the world’s oceans based on one global ocean, the three major oceans, the four historic oceans, and the five world oceans.


The Five World Oceans

Each of the five world oceans are described here including the kích thước of each ocean as well as a map showing the location và boundaries for each ocean.

Pacific Ocean:

The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest ocean. It spans from the Arctic Ocean in the north to lớn the Southern Ocean in the south.

The Pacific Ocean is 165,250,000 square km (63,800,000 sq. Mi) in area and covers 46% of Earth’s water surface.

The Pacific Ocean covers 28% of the global surface which is roughly equivalent lớn all of the landmasses combined.


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Oregon Coast meets the Pacific Ocean at Cannon Beach. Photo: Steven Sobieszczyk, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain

The deepest point on Earth, the Mariana Trench, is located in the Pacific Ocean.

The Pacific Ocean includes the Bali Sea, Bering Sea, Bering Strait, Coral Sea, East china Sea, Gulf of Alaska, Gulf of Tonkin, Philippine Sea, Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, South đài loan trung quốc Sea, Tasman Sea, and other tributary water bodies.

The Pacific Ocean is found along the western coast of the United States, along Southeast Asia, the eastern side of Australia, and along the western coast of South America.


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Map of the Pacific Ocean. Map: CIA World Factbook, public domain.

Atlantic Ocean:

This is the second largest ocean in the World. This body of water is located between Africa, Europe, the Arctic Ocean, the Americas, & the Southern Ocean.

The area of the Atlantic Ocean is about 106,460,000square km(41,100,000sqmi).


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Atlantic Ocean sunrise as seen from a Florida beach. Photo: Randolph Femmer, USGS. Public domain

The lowest point in the Atlantic Ocean is the Milwaukee Deep in the Puerto Rico Trench with a depth of 8,376m (27,480ft).

The Atlantic Ocean includes the Baltic Sea, black Sea, Caribbean Sea, Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, part of the Drake Passage, Gulf of Mexico, Labrador Sea, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea, almost all of the Scotia Sea, & other tributary water bodies.

The Atlantic Ocean is found along the eastern coast of the United States, the eastern coast of South America, the western coast of Africa, & north & western Europe.


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Map of the Atlantic Ocean. Map: CIA World Factbook, public domain.

Indian Ocean:

The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean. This toàn thân of water stretches between Africa, the Southern Ocean, Asia, và Australia.

The area of the Indian Ocean is 70,560,000sq km(27,240,000sqmi) which represents 19.8% of the water on Earth’s surface.


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NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this view of the Indian Ocean off the coast of australia on October 21, 2019. Image: NASA, public domain

The Indian Ocean includes includes Andaman Sea, Arabian Sea, bay of Bengal, Flores Sea, Great Australian Bight, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Java Sea, Mozambique Channel, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Savu Sea, Strait of Malacca, Timor Sea, và other tributary water bodies.

The Indian Ocean is found along the eastern coast of Africa, the Middle East, the southern part of Asia, and the western coast of Australia.


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Map of the Indian Ocean. Map: CIA World Factbook, public domain.

The Arctic Ocean:

The Arctic Ocean is the smallest ocean. The area of the Arctic Ocean is 14,056,000sq km(5,427,000sqmi) which makes it the only ocean smaller than Russia.

This ocean is also the coldest of the world’s oceans.


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A melting ice floe in the Arctic Ocean, August 12, 2009. Photo: Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard. Public domain.

Found mostly north of the Arctic Circle, this ocean lies between Europe, Asia, và North America.

The Arctic Ocean includes Baffin Bay, Barents Sea, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, East Siberian Sea, Greenland Sea, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, Northwest Passage, and other tributary water bodies.


Southern Ocean:

The Southern Ocean is a proposed ocean surrounding Antarctica with a northern limit of 60°S. The northern boundary abuts the Atlantic, Indian và Pacific Oceans, making it the only ocean not to lớn have a land mass as the border.

What makes some organizations designate the Southern Ocean as an ocean is the fact that its waters differ from other oceans due to lớn fairly rapid circulation.


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Tabular icebergs in the Southern Ocean. Photo: Mike Goebel, NOAA NMFS SWFSC Antarctic Marine Living Resources (AMLR) Program, 1992, public domain.

It is the second smallest of the five world oceans. It has an area of 20.327 million sq km (7.849millionsq mi).

The Southern Ocean includes Amundsen Sea, Bellingshausen Sea, part of the Drake Passage, Ross Sea, a small part of the Scotia Sea, Weddell Sea, & other tributary water bodies.


How are the Ocean Borders and Names Determined?

TheInternational Hydrographic Organization(IHO), which first convened in 1919 (and was originally referred to lớn as the International Hydrographic Bureau(IHB)), is theinter-governmental organizationthat creates the international agreement of ocean borders and names.

The outcomes of each convention are published in theLimits of Oceans và Seas.

Watch: How many oceans are there?


References

IHO (International Hydrographic Organization),2000.

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Report of the International Hydrographic Organisation. Working Paper No. 57 (WP 57). 20th Session of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, (New York), 17–28 January 2000.

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