30 million year old Southern Ocean officially recognized - Know its location, size and other details

Geography books around the globe will now feature five instead of four oceans of the world with the Southern Ocean now officially recognized.

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30 million year old Southern Ocean officially recognized - Know its location, size and other details

Leading mapmaker National Geographic has officially bifurcated the world into five oceans instead of four. The new ocean, which is made up of the water body surrounding Antarctica, will be known as the Southern Ocean.

This ocean will enjoy the same status as the other four – the Indian, Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

While only recently officially recognized, the water body is at least 30 million years old, which geologists believe was formed after South America split from Antarctica.

As per National Geographic Society Geographer Alex Tait, “The Southern Ocean has long been recognized by scientists, but because there was never agreement internationally, we never officially recognized it.”

The Southern Ocean is unique in the way that no other ocean "touches three other oceans and entirely embraces a continent rather than being enveloped by them," as per the National Geographic magazine.

The Southern Ocean – Size, Fauna, Concerns

The northernmost part of the Southern Ocean has been accepted at 60 degrees south latitude. Its size is 20.33 million km².

The ocean is defined by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, formed 34 million years ago. The current in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica travels from west to east.

In terms of fauna, Southern Ocean houses significant population of penguins, seals and whales.

One of the biggest concerns is the rapid warming of the Southern Ocean induced by global warming. As per National Geographic, commercial fishing in the ocean, mainly for krill and Patagonian toothfish, has been another area of concern for decades.

The cartographer believes that the new states and name will help bring global attention to the environmental concerns in the region.

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