Before this, there were only four oceans, the Pacific, Indian, Atlantic, Arctic oceans, that carried significance in the futures of many countries.
A new fifth ocean
Since 1915, the National Geographic Society has been making maps and releasing them to the public. They are slated to announce their new policy on the Southern Ocean on World Ocean Day, reported the Daily Mail.
The organization said the ocean is defined by the current which goes around the frigid continent. It reaches the northernmost tip to the 60th parallel south. Although there are still some who debate the validity of this claim, there are hopes that National Geographic's revised maps will make people think about the Southern Ocean in innovative ways, and lead to its conservation.
According to National Geographic Society geographer Alex Tait, the fifth ocean has been known as a part of the oceanic system. "Unfortunately, since there was no international agreement, we never officially recognized it. In some ways, it's like geographical nerdiness," he added, noted by National Geographic.
The new ocean has always been noted as being different from the four other large bodies of water. Recognizing it in maps finally is the final part, and it should be known for its ecological separation. The National Geographic cartographers add the Southern Ocean for this special feature, unlike other oceans.
Debates on finally acknowledging the Southern Ocean
The National Geographic mentioned that Tait, who checks on all the maps that are published by the organization, and the resident cartographic and map policy committee have been arguing why the fifth ocean should be considered as a body of water for several years.
Before, the water encircling Antarctica was categorized as a frigid, southerly extension of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.Of late, the researchers and the media have been using the term "Southern Ocean", which has gained popularity as a term for that body of water.
The Antarctic Circumpolar Current is a specific and swift current that circumnavigates the southernmost continent, leading society to recognize it. They took into consideration the unusual marine ecosystem present in the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean. They also factored in the unique marine ecosystem found in the Southern Ocean's cold waters.
Sylvia Earle, a marine biologist and National Geographic explorer said, as mentioned in The Hill, "Although there is just one interconnected ocean, National Geographic gets kudos for designating the body of water that encircles Antarctica as the Southern Ocean."
This newly minted ocean is bordered by the formidably swift Antarctic Circumpolar Current, and the only sea on earth to be touched by three oceans. It goes around the southern continent.
Whenever it relates to the naming of marine features like oceans, National Geographic has traditionally followed the standards set by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). Both IHO and National Geographic corroborate with the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names to standardize designations. The Southern Ocean is seen as a part of 1937 guidelines, but in 1953, it was repealed because of problems concerning it.
'Southern Ocean' was already recognized by the US Board on Geographic Names from 1999, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just adopted the designation in early February of 2021, as National Geographic cartographers add the Southern Ocean to the world map.