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Most of us learned about the world’s oceans in elementary school. It has the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Arctic.
Now, there is a sea change ahead.
Thanks to National Geographic, you will soon see a fifth ocean on your maps. It is now officially recognizing the Southern Ocean, the waters that revolve around Antarctica, marking the first time the organization has made such a change since it began mapping over a century ago.
On World Ocean Day earlier this week, National Geographic announced the difference, which many scientists and researchers have unofficially acknowledged for decades.
“Traditionally, it has been the fourth [oceans] determined primarily by land mass, “Alex Tait, geographer of the National Geographical Association, told NPR All things considered. “We think it’s important to add this fifth ocean region because it is so unique and because we want to bring attention to all areas of the ocean.”
National Geographic has produced maps, atlases, and globes since 1915. But this is the first time they are drawing up a new map that will rebuild the oceans.
The move reaches recognition of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Southern Ocean in 1999, when it won approval from the American Geographical Names Board.
The change made waves for experts already familiar with the area. For example, he caught Cassandra Brooks, an assistant professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, out of murder.
“To be completely honest with you, I was more surprised because I had always thought of the Southern Ocean as its ocean,” Brooks says. “I think most of the scientists working there really understand how the Southern Ocean is its thing.”
But the South is special, according to Brooks, who has spent more than 15 years of her career studying Antarctica. Defined is defined by the powerful Antarctic Circular current, a critical current that it says helps regulate the Earth’s climate.
Brooks says she thinks of the Southern Ocean as “lungs” or “heart.” The ocean is “pumping water across the world’s oceans,” she says.
Both Tait and Brooks hope this new acquaintance will create more awareness of a region that is often forgotten.
“Antarctica is so far away that most people do not think about it every day. They are not seeing how important it is to literally survive,” Brooks says.
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