(CNN) — Tens of millions of youngsters all over the world have grown up memorizing primary info about geography: there are seven continents and 4 oceans.
This confluence of the southernmost stretches of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans has at all times been an attention-grabbing — and generally contentious — spot for oceanographers.
What’s in a reputation?
Normally, adjustments to world maps are the results of political adjustments — for instance, Czechoslovakia splitting into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, or Swaziland voting to vary its title to Eswatini.
However as a substitute of reflecting a change on the planet, the Fifth Ocean is a uncommon instance of a mapmaker making an effort to change the planet.
Nationwide Geographic geographer Alex Tait explains why naming conventions might be so vital.
“A part of mapping the world is utilizing place names and options which can be in widespread use amongst people who find themselves describing the world, and this will get into another issues aside from geopolitical naming,” he tells CNN Journey.
“The oceans are a type of issues, so we wish to maintain monitor of how scientists, vacationers, writers, individuals are utilizing place names.”
Tait is fast so as to add that though Nationwide Geographic’s prominence within the mapping world offers its official decree extra weight, others have been utilizing the time period Southern Ocean already.
“Oceanographers will in all probability rejoice that (the Southern Ocean) will probably be on Nat Geo maps,” says CNN’s local weather editor Angela Fritz. She provides: “I can not consider any earth scientists who disagree (with the designation).”
Methods to make an ocean
On the subject of understanding oceans, it’s good to begin with the fundamentals, says Tait.
“There’s one world ocean and it is all interconnected,” he notes.
“We’re actually speaking about ocean areas, and there is historically been the 4: Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic. However for a lot of, a few years, scientists and others have been utilizing the time period Southern Ocean to explain the bodily area of the ocean round Antarctica.”
So then, what makes the Southern Ocean completely different?
Tait breaks it down.
“You go from hotter waters within the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans to very chilly waters round Antarctica. After which the salinity goes down. There is a distinct fauna there, so minke whales, sure sorts of seals, penguins, fish and chook life are considerable within the Southern Ocean primarily based on these environmental components.”
A part of the motivation behind Nationwide Geographic’s resolution to call a fifth ocean, which was introduced on World Oceans Day (June 8), was that giving a spot a reputation can even give it standing.
Ocean dialog is a large undertaking, and it is simpler to boost consciousness concerning the Southern Ocean than it’s to do the identical about “that one space of water.”
Though many international locations and organizations all over the world acknowledge the Southern Ocean, not everyone seems to be on the identical web page about precisely the place it’s.
Nationwide Geographic formally makes use of the 60 diploma south latitude to attract the water border. Nevertheless, Australia considers the whole lot south of its nation the Southern Ocean.
As well as, local weather change performs a task in making an attempt to find out the place its borders might be.
A Nationwide Geographic map exhibits the Southern Ocean.
Courtesy Nationwide Geographic
French explorer and environmentalist Jean-Louis Etienne just lately introduced that he had invented a floating lab particularly designed for finding out the Southern Ocean.
His creation, nicknamed the Polar Pod, would not have a motor and can float within the water at a gradual pace so as to “orbit” Antarctica and collect knowledge.
Etienne is aiming to finish after which deploy the Polar Pod by 2024. However the Southern Ocean’s waters aren’t empty in the meanwhile.
That mentioned, it should be onerous for normal vacationers so as to add the Southern Ocean to their bucket lists. Journey right here is tough, however not unimaginable — principally, you may want to affix a ship going to Antarctica.
And be sure you pack your anti-nausea capsules, as a result of the water is notoriously uneven.
Correction: A earlier model of this story misidentified the confluence of oceans now acknowledged because the Southern Ocean by Nationwide Geographic cartographers.