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Southern Ocean

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Travel Guide Southern Ocean

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Introduction

The Southern Ocean (also known as the Great Southern Ocean, Antarctic Ocean, South Polar Ocean, and Austral Ocean) comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60°S latitude and encircling Antarctica. As such, it is regarded as the fourth-largest of the five principal oceanic divisions (after the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, but larger than the Arctic Ocean). This ocean zone is where cold, northward flowing waters from the Antarctic mix with warmer subantarctic waters.

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Geography

Geographers disagree on the Southern Ocean's northern boundary, and some even its existence - considering the waters part of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans instead. Others regard the Antarctic Convergence, an ocean zone which fluctuates seasonally, as separating the Southern Ocean from other oceans, rather than the 60th parallel. Australian authorities regard the Southern Ocean as lying immediately south of Australia.

With a northern limit at 60°S, the Southern Ocean differs from the other oceans in that its largest boundary, the northern boundary, does not abut a landmass (as it did with the first edition of Limits of Oceans and Seas). Instead, the northern limit is with the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.

One reason for considering it as a separate ocean stems from the fact that much of the water of the Southern Ocean differs from the water in the other oceans. Water gets transported around the Southern Ocean fairly rapidly because of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which circulates around Antarctica. Water in the Southern Ocean south of, for example, New Zealand, resembles the water in the Southern Ocean south of South America more closely than it resembles the water in the Pacific Ocean.

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Getting There and Around

Getting to the Arctic is not easy or cheap, although parts of the above mentioned countries are an exception. Usually, seeing some more remote parts requires taking an expensive cruise, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 11:11 on Mar 4, 15 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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