Southern Ocean General Information

General information: By the decision of the International Hydrographic Organization, adopted in the spring of 2000, the boundaries of the fifth world ocean, formed from the southern parts of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, were determined. According to Babyinger, the new ocean extends from the coast of Antarctica north to 60°S. sh., which is the internationally recognized boundary of Antarctica. The Southern Ocean is now the fourth largest of the world’s five oceans (after the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, but larger than the Arctic).


Location: body of water from the coast of Antarctica north to the 60th parallel.
Geographic coordinates: 65° 00′ S latitude, 0° 00′ E (nominally), but the Southern Ocean has the unique feature of being a large expanse of water around the pole, completely surrounding Antarctica; this ring of waters lies between the 60th parallel and the coast of Antarctica, comprising 360 degrees of longitude.
Reference map: Antarctic region.
Area: total: 20.327 million square kilometers; note: including the Amundsen Sea, the Bellingshausen Sea, part of the Drake Passage, the Ross Sea, a small part of the Scottish Sea, the Weddela Sea, other bodies of water.
Comparative area: slightly larger than double the US area.
Land borders:
Coastline: 17,968 km.
Maritime claims:
Climate: sea temperature varies from around 10°C to -2°C; cyclonic storms move eastward around the continent, are often very strong due to the temperature contrast between the ice area and the open ocean; in the ocean region from about 40 ° S. sh. to the Antarctic Arctic Circle, stronger winds than anywhere else on Earth; in winter, the ocean freezes to 65 ° S. sh. in the Pacific Ocean sector, up to 55 ° S sh. in the Atlantic sector, surface temperatures drop well below 0°C; in some parts of the coast, thanks to the constant winds from the continent, the coastline remains ice-free all winter.
Relief: The Southern Ocean is mostly deep (from 4,000 to 5,000 m), with small areas of shallow water; the Antarctic continental shelf is mostly narrow and unusually deep, its edge lies at depths of 400 to 800 m (with a world average of 133 m); Antarctic pack ice occupies an average area from a minimum value of 2.6 million km2. in March to about 18.8 million sq. km. in September, increasing more than sevenfold; The Antarctic Polar Current (21,000 km long) is constantly moving east, it is the largest ocean current in the world, carrying 130 million cubic meters of water per second, that is, a hundred times more than all the rivers of the world.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: -7,235 m at the southern tip of the Sandwich Basin; highest point: sea level 0 m.
Natural resources: large and even huge reserves of oil and gas on the shelf of the continent are likely, manganese ores, deposits of gold, sand and gravel are possible, fresh water in the form of icebergs, squid, whales, seals (none of the above is mined); krill and fish.
Land use:
Irrigated land:
Natural hazards: huge icebergs with a draft of up to several hundred meters; smaller ice floes and fragments of icebergs; sea ​​ice (typically 0.5 to 1 m thick) that experiences short-term dynamic variations and large annual and seasonal variations; deep continental shelf with ice deposits, the thickness of which varies greatly even at short distances; strong winds and high waves throughout most of the year; icing of ships, especially in May – October; most of the region is inaccessible to search and rescue facilities. Current environmental concerns: Increasing solar ultraviolet radiation from the formation of an ozone hole over Antarctica in recent years is reducing marine productivity (phytoplankton) by about 15% and damaging the DNA of some fish; illegal, hidden and unregulated fishing in recent years, especially 5-6 times the legal fishery of Patagonian toothfish (fish of the Nototheniidae family), which may affect the abundance of the species; large numbers of seabird deaths from long net fishing for toothfish; note: the currently protected seal population is rapidly recovering from the barbarian hunting in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Current environmental issues:
International agreements on environmental protection: The Southern Ocean is the subject of all international agreements on the oceans, in addition, it is the object of agreements specifically for this region; The International Fisheries Commission prohibits commercial whaling south of 40°S. sh. (South of 60° S between 50° and 130° W); The Antarctic Seal Protection Treaty restricts seal hunting; The Convention for the Conservation of the Living Marine Resources of Antarctica regulates fisheries; note: many countries (including the US) prohibit mineral exploration and production south of the volatile polar front (Antarctic Convergence), which lies in the middle of the Antarctic Polar Current and serves as a dividing line between cold polar surface waters to the south and warmer waters to North.
Note to the section “Geography”: the narrowest point is the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica; the polar front is the best natural definition of the northern limit of the Southern Ocean; the polar front and the current pass around the whole of Antarctica, reaching 60 ° S. sh. near New Zealand and almost 48 ° S. sh. in the South Atlantic, coinciding with the direction of most westerly winds.


Economic Review: For the 1998-99 fishing season. (July 1 to June 30) 119,898 metric tons of fish products were caught, of which 85% were krill and 14% Patagonian toothfish. At the end of 1999, international agreements were adopted to reduce illegal, hidden, indiscriminate fishing, which for Patagonian toothfish in the 1998-99 season. 5-6 times higher than legal fishing. For the period of the Antarctic summer 1999-2000. 13,193 tourists visited the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, most of them by sea (compared to 10,013 in the previous year), with approximately 16,000 tourists forecast for the 2000-01 season. Transport


Transport Railways:
Ports and harbors: McMurdo, Palmer, anchorages on the high seas; note: several ports or harbors exist in the southern part of the Southern Ocean, however, ice limits their use to short periods in midsummer, and even then some of them cannot be entered without an icebreaker escort; most Antarctic ports are under the jurisdiction of government research stations and, except in exceptional cases, are closed to commercial private vessels; in any port south of 60°S sh. vessels must be inspected in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty. Transport – Note: The Drake Passage is an alternative passage to the Panama Canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

International Issues

International Issues International Disputes: Antarctic Treaty Postpones Territorial Claims; sectors that partially overlap each other are claimed by Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, Great Britain; The USA and most other countries do not recognize the claims of other countries and do not put forward such demands themselves (the USA and Russia reserve such a right); no official claim was made to the sector between the 90s. and 150° W. e.

Southern Ocean General Information