Southern Ocean

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Recently, a research expedition in the Southern Ocean has mapped a string of seamounts that help to shape the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

About Southern Ocean

  • The Southern Ocean (also known as the Antarctic Ocean) is one of the five great ocean basins on Earth.
  • It was formed around 34 million years ago when Antarctica and South America drifted apart, creating the Drake Passage.
  • The passage is located between the Antarctica Peninsula’s tip and South America. 
  • It is made up of the portions of the world ocean south of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans and their tributary seas surrounding Antarctica below 60° S.
  • Physiography
    • The structure of the ocean floor includes a continental shelf usually less than 160 miles (about 260 km) wide that attains its maximum width of more than 1,600 miles (2,600 km) in the vicinity of the Weddell and Ross seas.
  • It is known for its strong winds, intense storms, dramatic seasonal changes and cold temperatures.
  • It is dominated by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC): the longest, strongest, deepest-reaching current on earth.
  • The ACC circulates clockwise around the continent, carrying more water around the globe than any other current.
  • Biodiversity: The Ocean supports a variety of plants and animals, with most animals relying on the rich phytoplankton from the Antarctic Convergence. Marine life includes whales, penguins, orcas, and seals. 

Q1) What is the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) ?

It is the most important current in the Southern Ocean, and the only current that flows completely around the globe. The ACC, as it encircles the Antarctic continent, flows eastward through the southern portions of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.

Source: Ancient underwater mountain range discovered in Southern Ocean