It’s time to update your atlas as a new ocean has been identified on Earth. From four, the count of Earth’s total oceans has increased to five as the National Geographic cartographers have recognised Antarctica’s Southern Ocean on their maps. On the occasion of World Oceans Day, the society which has been releasing the world maps since 1915 has publicly announced the update on June 8.
According to a report in Daily Mail, National Geographic has identified the water current surrounding the continent of Antarctica as the Southern Ocean. Although the ocean encircling the continent has long been recognised by scientists, society never made it public because it has always been a matter of contest internationally.
National Geographic Society geographer AlexTait — who oversees changes to all the maps they publish at the publication — revealed that previously they categorised the waters around the southernmost continent as merely cold southern extensions of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. He elaborated that for many years, their map policy committee has been debating about the benefits of declaring the water body as an independent ocean because of its ecological separation.
Since scientists and the members of the press have acknowledged the rapid Antarctic Circumpolar Current as distinct from all the other three adjoining oceans and popularised the term ‘Southern Ocean’, the society decided to recognise it as a separate water body. Moreover, it is also categorised as a separate waterbody because of the unique marine ecosystem specifically found in the Southern Ocean’s cold waters.
Tait also mentioned that he hopes society’s new policy regarding the Southern Ocean will influence children’s curiosity in learning more about the ocean which has long been unidentified. He concluded that students learn information about the ocean world through what oceans they are studying.