National Geographic has recently announced that they are recognizing the area of water around Antartica as the Southern Ocean. This makes five oceans on planet Earth, joining the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic Oceans.
The Southern Ocean goes from Antarctica’s coastline to 60 degrees south latitude, excluding the Drake Passage and the Scotia Sea. This makes it the second-smallest Ocean with the Arctic remaining the smallest.
Scientists have long recognized this fifth ocean apparently, but National Geographic is just now officially labeling it as such.
“Anyone who has been there will struggle to explain what’s so mesmerizing about it, but they’ll all agree that the glaciers are bluer, the air colder, the mountains more intimidating, and the landscapes more captivating than anywhere else you can go,” says Seth Sykora-Bodie, a marine scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a National Geographic Explorer.
Now that it is officially recognized in Nat Geo maps, this ocean should start receiving more recognition and be studied more thoroughly by those outside of the industry.
Since there is not really a land border that separates this ocean from the rest, the border will be defined by the Antarctic Circular Current. The ACC is a current that travels around Antarctica and flows West to East. This current is what makes the water so much colder than the other oceans, while also making it less salty.