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Earth's oceans
(World Ocean)

The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about 106.4 million square kilometres (41.1 million square miles), it covers approximately twenty percent of the Earth's surface and about twenty-six percent of its water surface area. The first part of its name refers to the Atlas of Greek mythology, making the Atlantic the "Sea of Atlas".

The oldest known mention of this name is contained in The Histories of Herodotus around 450 BC (I 202); see also: Atlas Mountains. Another name historically used was the ancient term Ethiopic Ocean, derived from Ethiopia, whose name was sometimes used as a synonym for all of Africa and thus for the ocean. Before Europeans discovered other oceans, the term "ocean" itself was to them synonymous with the waters beyond Western Europe that we now know as the Atlantic and which the Greeks had believed to be a gigantic river encircling the world; see Oceanus.

The Atlantic Ocean occupies an elongated, S-shaped basin extending longitudinally between the Americas to the west, and Eurasia and Africa to the east. As one component of the interconnected global ocean, it is connected in the north to the Arctic Ocean (which is sometimes considered a sea of the Atlantic), to the Pacific Ocean in the southwest, the Indian Ocean in the southeast, and the Southern Ocean in the south. (Other definitions describe the Atlantic as extending southward to Antarctica.) The equator subdivides it into the North Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean.

The Atlantic Ocean, not including Arctic and Antarctic regions.

Contents

Geography

Photo of surf breaking on rocky shore
The Atlantic Ocean as seen from the western coast of Portugal

The Atlantic Ocean is bounded on the west by North and South America. It connects to the Arctic Ocean through the Denmark Strait, Greenland Sea, Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea. To the east, the boundaries of the ocean proper are Europe, the Strait of Gibraltar (where it connects with the Mediterranean Sea, one of its marginal seas and, in turn, the Black Sea) and Africa.

In the southeast, the Atlantic merges into the Indian Ocean. The 20° East meridian, running south from Cape Agulhas to Antarctica defines its border. Some authorities show it extending south to Antarctica, while others show it bounded at the 60° parallel by the Southern Ocean.[1]

In the southwest, the Drake Passage connects it to the Pacific Ocean. The man-made Panama Canal links the Atlantic and Pacific. Besides those mentioned, other large bodies of water adjacent to the Atlantic are the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, Hudson Bay, the Arctic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Celtic Sea.

Covering approximately 22% of Earth's surface, the Atlantic is second in size to the Pacific. With its adjacent seas it occupies an area of about 106,400,000 square kilometres (41,100,000 sq mi); without them, it has an area of 82,400,000 square kilometres (31,800,000 sq mi). The land that drains into the Atlantic covers four times that of either the Pacific or Indian oceans. The volume of the Atlantic with its adjacent seas is 354,700,000 cubic kilometers (85,100,000 cu mi) and without them 323,600,000 cubic kilometres (77,640,000 cu mi).

The average depth of the Atlantic, with its adjacent seas, is 3,339 metres (10,955 ft); without them it is 3,926 metres (12,881 ft). The greatest depth, 8,605 metres (28,232 ft), is in the Puerto Rico Trench. The Atlantic's width varies from 2,848 kilometres (1,770 mi) between Brazil and Sierra Leone to over 6,400 km (4,000 mi) in the south.

Extent

The 3rd edition of the International Hydrographic Organization's (IHO) Limits of Oceans and Seas defines the limits of the North Atlantic Ocean as follows:[2]

On the West. The Eastern limits of the Caribbean Sea, the Southeastern limits of the Gulf of Mexico from the North coast of Cuba to Key West, the Southwestern limit of the Bay of Fundy and the Southeastern and Northeastern limits of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

On the North. The Southern limit of Davis Strait from the coast of Labrador to Greenland and the Southwestern limit of the Greenland Sea and Norwegian Sea from Greenland to the Shetland Islands.

On the East. The Northwestern limit of the North Sea, the Northern and Western limits of the Scottish Seas, the Southern limit of the Irish Sea, the Western limits of the Bristol and English Channels, of the Bay of Biscay and of the Mediterranean Sea.

On the South. The equator, from the coast of Brazil to the Southwestern limit of the Gulf of Guinea.

And the South Atlantic Ocean is defined as:

On the Southwest. The meridian of Cape Horn, Chile (67°16'W) from Tierra del Fuego to the Antarctic Continent; a line from Cape Virgins (52°21′S 68°21′W / 52.35°S 68.35°W / -52.35; -68.35) to Cape Espiritu Santo, Tierra del Fuego, the Eastern entrance to Magellan Strait, Chile

On the West. The limit of the Rio de La Plata.

On the North. The Southern limit of the North Atlantic Ocean.

On the Northeast. The limit of the Gulf of Guinea.

On the Southeast. From Cape Agulhas along the meridian of 20° East to the Antarctic continent.

On the South. The Antarctic Continent.

Note that these definitions exclude any marginal waterbodies that are separately defined by the IHO (such as the Bay of Biscay and Gulf of Guinea), though these are usually considered to be part of the Atlantic Ocean.

In 2000 the IHO redefined the Atlantic Ocean, moving its southern limit to 60°S, with the waters south of that line identified as the Southern Ocean. This new definition has not yet been ratified (a reservation has been lodged by Australia[3]) though it is in use by the IHO and others. If and when adopted, the 2000 definition will be published in the 4th edition of Limits of Oceans and Seas, restoring the Southern Ocean as originally outlined in the 2nd edition and subsequently omitted from the 3rd edition.

Cultural significance

Transatlantic travel played a major role in the expansion of Western civilization into the Americas. Today, it can be referred to in a humorously diminutive way as the Pond in idioms, in reference to the geographical and cultural divide between North America and Europe. Some British people refer to the USA as "across the pond".[4]

Ocean bottom

Map that uses color to show ocean depth

The principal feature of the bathymetry (bottom topography) is a submarine mountain range called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge[5]. It extends from Iceland in the north to approximately 58° South latitude, reaching a maximum width of about 1,600 kilometres (990 mi). A great rift valley also extends along the ridge over most of its length. The depth of water at the apex of the ridge is less than 2,700 metres (8,900 ft) in most places, the bottom of the ridge is three times as deep and of course several peaks rise above the water and form islands.[6] The South Atlantic Ocean has an additional submarine ridge, the Walvis Ridge[7].

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge separates the Atlantic Ocean into two large troughs with depths from 3,700–5,500 metres (12,100–18,000 ft). Transverse ridges running between the continents and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge divide the ocean floor into numerous basins. Some of the larger basins are the Blake, Guiana, North American, Cape Verde, and Canaries basins in the North Atlantic. The largest South Atlantic basins are the Angola, Cape, Argentina, and Brazil basins.

The deep ocean floor is thought to be fairly flat with occasional deeps, trenches, seamounts and some guyots. Various shelves along the margins of the continents constitute about 11% of the bottom topography with few deep channels cut across the continental rise.

Ocean floor trenches and seamounts:

Ocean sediments are composed of:

  • Terrigenous deposits with land origins, consisting of sand, mud, and rock particles formed by erosion, weathering, and volcanic activity on land washed to sea. These materials are found mostly on the continental shelves and are thickest near large river mouths or off desert coasts.
  • Pelagic deposits, which contain the remains of organisms that sink to the ocean floor, include red clays and Globigerina, pteropod, and siliceous oozes. Covering most of the ocean floor and ranging in thickness from 60–3,300 metres (200–10,830 ft) they are thickest in the convergence belts, notably at the Hamilton Ridge and in upwelling zones.
  • Authigenic deposits consist of such materials as manganese nodules. They occur where sedimentation proceeds slowly or where currents sort the deposits, such as in the Hewett Curve.

Water characteristics

Map displaying a looping line with arrows indicating that water flows eastward in the far Southern ocean, angling north east of Australia, turning sough after passing Alaska, then crossing the mid-Pacific to flow north of Australia, continuing west below Africa, then turning northwest until reaching eastern Canada, then angling east to southern Europe, then finally turning south just below Greenland and flowing down the Americas' eastern coast, and resuming its flow eastward to complete the circle
Path of the thermohaline circulation. Purple paths represent deep-water currents, while blue paths represent surface currents.
Map showing 5 circles. The first is between western Australia and eastern Africa. The second is between eastern Australia and western South America. The third is between Japan and western North America. Of the two in the Atlantic, one is in hemisphere.
Map of the five major ocean gyres

On average, the Atlantic is the saltiest major ocean; surface water salinity in the open ocean ranges from 33 to 37 parts per thousand (3.3 - 3.7%) by mass and varies with latitude and season. Evaporation, precipitation, river inflow and sea ice melting influence surface salinity values. Although the salinity values are just north of the equator (because of heavy tropical rainfall), in general the lowest values are in the high latitudes and along coasts where large rivers enter. Maximum salinity values occur at about 25° north and south, in subtropical regions with low rainfall and high evaporation.

Surface water temperatures, which vary with latitude, current systems, and season and reflect the latitudinal distribution of solar energy, range from below −2 °C (28.4 °F). Maximum temperatures occur north of the equator, and minimum values are found in the polar regions. In the middle latitudes, the area of maximum temperature variations, values may vary by 7-8 °C (12-15 °F).

The Atlantic Ocean consists of four major water masses. The North and South Atlantic central waters make up the surface. The sub-Antarctic intermediate water extends to depths of 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). The North Atlantic Deep Water reaches depths of as much as 4,000 metres (13,000 ft). The Antarctic Bottom Water occupies ocean basins at depths greater than 4,000 meters.

Within the North Atlantic, ocean currents isolate the Sargasso Sea, a large elongated body of water, with above average salinity. The Sargasso Sea contains large amounts of seaweed and is also the spawning ground for both the European eel and the American eel.

The Coriolis effect circulates North Atlantic water in a clockwise direction, whereas South Atlantic water circulates counter-clockwise. The south tides in the Atlantic Ocean are semi-diurnal; that is, two high tides occur during each 24 lunar hours. In latitudes above 40° North some east-west oscillation occurs.

Climate

Map of Caribbean showing 7 approximately parallel westward-pointing arrows that extend from east of the Virgin Islands to Cuba. The southern arrows bend northward just east of the Dominican Republic before straightening out again.
Waves in the trade winds in the Atlantic Ocean—areas of converging winds that move along the same track as the prevailing wind—create instabilities in the atmosphere that may lead to the formation of hurricanes

Climate is influenced by the temperatures of the surface waters and water currents as well as winds. Because of the ocean's great heat retention capacity, maritime climates are more moderate and have less extreme seasonal variations than inland climates. Precipitation can be approximated from coastal weather data and air temperature from water temperatures.

The oceans are the major source of the atmospheric moisture that is obtained through evaporation. Climatic zones vary with latitude; the warmest zones stretch across the Atlantic north of the equator. The coldest zones are in high latitudes, with the coldest regions corresponding to the areas covered by sea ice. Ocean currents influence climate by transporting warm and cold waters to other regions. The winds that are cooled or warmed when blowing over these currents influence adjacent land areas.

The Gulf Stream and its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, for example, warms the atmosphere of the British Isles and north-western Europe, and the cold water currents contribute to heavy fog off the coast of eastern Canada (the Grand Banks of Newfoundland area) and Africa's north-western coast. In general, winds transport moisture and air over land areas. Hurricanes develop in the southern part of the North Atlantic Ocean.

History

Animation showing the continents separating from a single mass, making creating the Atlantic in the process
Animation of showing the separation of Pangaea, which formed the Atlantic Ocean known today

The Atlantic Ocean appears to be the second youngest of the five oceans. Apparently it did not exist prior to 130 million years ago, when the continents that formed from the breakup of the ancestral super continent, Pangaea, were drifting apart from seafloor spreading. The Atlantic has been extensively explored since the earliest settlements along its shores.

The Vikings, the Portuguese, and Christopher Columbus were the most famous among early explorers. After Columbus, European exploration rapidly accelerated, and many new trade routes were established.

As a result, the Atlantic became and remains the major artery between Europe and the Americas (known as transatlantic trade). Scientific explorations include the Challenger expedition, the German Meteor expedition, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the United States Navy Hydrographic Office.

Notable crossings

Ethiopic Ocean

The Ethiopic Ocean or Ethiopian Ocean (Okeanos Aithiopos) is an old name for what is now called the South Atlantic Ocean, which is separated from the North Atlantic Ocean by a narrow region between Natal, Brazil and Monrovia, Liberia. Use of this term illustrates a past trend towards referring to the whole continent of Africa by the name Aethiopia. The modern nation of Ethiopia, in northeast Africa, is nowhere near the Ethiopic Ocean, which would be said to lie off the west coast of Africa. The term Ethiopian Ocean sometimes appeared until the mid-19th century.[citation needed]

Economy

The Atlantic has contributed significantly to the development and economy of surrounding countries. Besides major transatlantic transportation and communication routes, the Atlantic offers abundant petroleum deposits in the sedimentary rocks of the continental shelves. The Atlantic hosts the world's richest fishing resources, especially in the waters covering the shelves. The major fish are cod, haddock, hake, herring, and mackerel.

The most productive areas include Newfoundland's Grand Banks, the Nova Scotia shelf , Georges Bank off Cape Cod, the Bahama Banks, the waters around Iceland, the Irish Sea, the Dogger Bank of the North Sea, and the Falkland Banks. Eel, lobster, and whales appear in great quantities. Because environmental threats from oil spills, marine debris, and the incineration of toxic wastes at sea, various international treaties attempt to reduce pollution.

Terrain

From October to June the surface is usually covered with sea ice in the Labrador Sea, Denmark Strait, and Baltic Sea. A clockwise warm-water gyre occupies the northern Atlantic, and a counter-clockwise warm-water gyre appears in the southern Atlantic. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge , a rugged north-south centerline for the entire Atlantic basin, first discovered by the Challenger Expedition dominates the ocean floor. This was formed by the vulcanism that also formed the ocean floor and the islands rising from it.

The Atlantic has irregular coasts indented by numerous bays, gulfs, and seas. These include the Norwegian Sea, Baltic Sea, North Sea, Labrador Sea, Black Sea, Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Bay of Fundy, Gulf of Maine, Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.

Islands include Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Great Britain (including numerous surrounding islands), Ireland, Rockall, Newfoundland, Sable Island, Azores, Madeira, Bermuda, Canary Islands, Caribbean, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Annobón Province, St. Peter Island, Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Ascension Island, Saint Helena, The Islands of Trindad, Tristan da Cunha, Gough Island (Also known as Diego Alvarez), Falkland Islands, Tierra del Fuego, South Georgia Island, South Sandwich Islands, and Bouvet Island.

Natural resources

The Atlantic harbors petroleum and gas fields, fish, marine mammals (seals and whales), sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, polymetallic nodules, and precious stones.

Natural hazards

Overhead photo of iceberg
Iceberg A22A in the South Atlantic Ocean

Icebergs are common from February to August in the Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, and the northwestern Atlantic and have been spotted as far south as Bermuda and Madeira. Ships are subject to superstructure icing in the extreme north from October to May. Persistent fog can be a maritime hazard from May to September, as can hurricanes north of the equator (May to December).

The United States' southeast coast has a long history of shipwrecks due to its many shoals and reefs. The Virginia and North Carolina coasts were particularly dangerous.

The Bermuda Triangle is popularly believed to be the site of numerous aviation and shipping incidents because of unexplained and supposedly mysterious causes, but Coast Guard records do not support this belief.

Current environmental issues

Endangered marine species include the manatee, seals, sea lions, turtles, and whales. Drift net fishing can kill dolphins, albatrosses and other seabirds (petrels, auks), hastening the fish stock decline and contributing to international disputes.[11] Municipal pollution comes from the eastern United States, southern Brazil, and eastern Argentina; oil pollution in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Lake Maracaibo, Mediterranean Sea, and North Sea; and industrial waste and municipal sewage pollution in the Baltic Sea, North Sea, and Mediterranean Sea.

In 2005, there was some concern that warm northern European currents were slowing down, but no scientific consensus formed from that evidence.[12]

On June 7, 2006, Florida's wildlife commission voted to take the manatee off the state's endangered species list. Some environmentalists worry that this could erode safeguards for the popular sea creature.

Marine pollution

Marine pollution is a generic term for the entry into the ocean of potentially hazardous chemicals or particles. The biggest culprits are rivers and with them many agriculture fertilizer chemicals as well as livestock and human waste. The excess of oxygen-depleting chemicals leads to hypoxia and the creation of a dead zone.[13]

Marine debris, also known as marine litter, describes human-created waste floating in a body of water. Oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the center of gyres and coastlines, frequently washing aground where it is known as beach litter.

Major ports and harbours

See also

References

  1. ^ Limits of Oceans and Seas. International Hydrographic Organization Special Publication No. 23, 1953.
  2. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition". International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. http://www.iho-ohi.net/iho_pubs/standard/S-23/S23_1953.pdf. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  3. ^ Darby, Andrew (22 December 2003). "Canberra all at sea over position of Southern Ocean". The Age. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/12/21/1071941610556.html. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  4. ^ Example: BBC Click - Episode 04 April 2009
  5. ^ Hsü, Kenneth J. (1992) Challenger at Sea, Princeton, Princeton University Press, page 57
  6. ^ The Mediterranean Was a Desert" by Kenneth J. Hsü, illustration 13.
  7. ^ National Geographic Atlas of the World: Revised Sixth Edition, National Geographic Society, 1992
  8. ^ http://www.sea-seek.com/site/Milwaukee_Deep
  9. ^ http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gtFxhb2bKIQLIxaRF0qB0x7k4yvgD93RLE680
  10. ^ "Introduction" U-Boat Operations of the Second World War—Vol 1 by Wynn, Kenneth, 1998 p. 1
  11. ^ animallaw.info: Problems and Prospects for the Pelagic Driftnet
  12. ^ Atlantic Ocean's 'Heat Engine' Chills Down by Christopher Joyce. All Things Considered, National Public Radio, 30 Nov, 2005.
  13. ^ Gerlach: Marine Pollution, Springer, Berlin (1975)

http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/geoghist/histories/history/hiscountries/A/atlanticocean.html

http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/information/oceans/atlantic.html

Much of this article comes from the public domain site http://oceanographer.navy.mil/atlantic.html (dead link). It is now accessible from the Internet Archive at http://web.archive.org/web/20020221215514/http%3a//oceanographer.navy.mil/atlantic.html.

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

="">See Atlantic (disambiguation) for articles sharing the title Atlantic.


ATLANTIC, a city and the county-seat of Cass county, Iowa, U.S.A., on East Nishnabatna river, about 80 m. W. by S. of Des Moines. Pop. (1890) 435 1; (1900) 5046; (1905, state census) 5180, of whom 625 were foreign-born. It is served by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railway, and by an interurban electric line connecting with Elkhorn and Kimballton, and is the trade centre of a fine agricultural country; among its manufactures are machine-shop products, canned corn, flour, umbrellas, drugs and bricks. The municipality owns the waterworks and electric-lighting plant. Atlantic was chartered as a city in 1869.


<< Atlanta

Atlantic City >>


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Contents

English

Etymology

From Latin Atlanticus.

Pronunciation

  • enPR: ət-lăn'tĭk, IPA: /ətˈlæn.tɪk/, SAMPA: /@t"l{ntIk/
    Rhymes: -æntɪk

Proper noun

Singular
Atlantic

Plural
-

Atlantic

  1. The Atlantic Ocean.

Translations

Adjective

Atlantic (not comparable)

Positive
Atlantic

Comparative
not comparable

Superlative
none (absolute)

  1. Pertaining to the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. Pertaining to locations adjacent to or in the vicinity of the Atlantic Ocean, such as the British Isles or the Eastern seaboard of the USA.
  3. Pertaining to the legendary island of Atlantis.

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Anagrams








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