It has taken National Geographic more than 100 years to recognize that there is a fifth ocean: the still-contested Southern Ocean.
For the cartographers of National Geographic, it is true that “it is never too late if happiness is good”, even if it is talking about large areas of water that have been there since (almost) always. Come the world oceans day (because every day is the day of something), these scientists have considered that it is time to recognize the fifth terrestrial ocean.
Without looking anywhere we can do the simple exercise of remembering what oceans are on Earth. Depending on the case, we can remember all of them, perhaps part of them, and in any of these we can think that there are four or five. This doubtful fifth place is taken by the Antarctic, Glacial Antarctic, Southern, Southern oceans or southern ocean, whose existence has been questioned, as well as its limits. And now this group of cartographers says that it does exist and that it is fine, with evidence, of course.
Although we have them constantly watched, although we know more and more about them and what they influence globally, the oceans may have been relatively neglected. In fact, although this news may surprise or surprise, the cartography of the oceans is something that is assumed but that actually not done yet, existing a project to achieve it before 2030.
Speaking of which, they count on National Geographic They have been making maps since 1915, and that since then there have been four oceans for them: Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Arctic. They have normally followed the determinations of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) regarding the marine nomenclature, although they are not strictly responsible in this regard, but for the weight they have.
However, the IHO itself changed its mind about this ocean. In 1937 it recognized it, but in 1953 it rejected this designation and since then there has been no agreement between the members that comprise it.
Thus, the point of debate to speak of the South Ocean or not (or any other denomination) is that there is no consensus between geographers and other experts. As they explain, they themselves have taken so many years to recognize it because “there has never been an international consensus” that facilitated a clear recognition that it is a fifth ocean and not colder waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.
“Glaciers are bluer, air colder, mountains more intimidating”
The limits of the Southern Ocean are established from the shores of Antarctica up to 60 degrees south. That is, more or less it is the extension of water that fills a circumference around Antarctica, precisely subtracting the area of the region.
The particular thing is that in this case there is no continental mass that defines what the physical boundaries of this ocean would be, but they are the currents. Specifically, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (CCA), one of the largest currents in the world that encloses colder and less salty waters than those of the neighboring oceans to the north.
The size of the CEC is such that its status and pattern have a direct impact on the global climate, since it is an important carbon store (on the ocean floor) and contributes to global water circulation by absorbing water from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian. Something that has contributed to the belated determination of the National Geographic cartographers, given that the CEC helps keep Antarctica cold and is something of considerable concern. by the data that are coming out about its thaw and warming.
In fact, as they recognize, the southern ocean favors that the area is a unique marine ecosystem, with species that only inhabit these waters. Hence, recognition, putting a clear label on it, can be of help to put it in value, give it entity and thus promote the protection of the area.
Furthermore, some of the scientists even speak of a different feeling. In a colloquial way, Seth Sykora-Bodie, a marine scientist at the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and a researcher for National Geographic, describes it as something like something that intoxicates you once you visit.
According to him, “anyone who has been there” will have a hard time explaining what is happening, why it is so “hypnotic”, and in his case he explains that “everyone will agree that the glaciers are bluer, the air colder, the mountains more intimidating and the landscapes more captivating than anywhere else you go. ” Something more poetic than scientific, but that also helps in its own way to give that entity to this ocean and for a few more.