The world’s oceans cover an estimated 71% of the earth’s surface. The temperature on these waters bodies influences global climate and marine ecosystems. There are five oceans which include the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern, and Arctic oceans which carry an estimated 97% of the world’s water. The Indian Ocean is bordered by Asia, Africa, and Australia and is the warmest in the world. The ocean covers 27,240,000 square miles including the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The ocean has an average depth of 12,274 feet and has a volume of 63,000,000 cubic miles which is about 19.8% of the Earths ocean volume.
Measurement of Ocean Surface Temperatures
Scientists use a variety of techniques to measure surface layer ocean temperature. The surface layer typically extends to about 1,200 feet down from the surface of the ocean. Initially, ocean temperature was measured using a ship's input port, but the data gathered was usually inaccurate due to ocean stratification and depth variance. Temperature measurement techniques however changed to include ocean floats and satellite tools to give more accurate results. The data gathered is used to create a baseline that can be used for comparison with future measurements. The results can also be utilized to monitor temperature trends, and these trends are then used by biologists, oceanologists, and climate change experts in their respective fields.
The waters of the Indian Ocean have temperatures ranging between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit on the upper layer of the ocean. The ocean also has no Arctic contact which ensures the ocean remains relatively warm all year round. The warm waters provide optimal conditions for phytoplankton growth which helps foster marine life and subsequent commercial fishing expeditions.
The Pacific Ocean is the second warmest and occupies 63,800,000 square miles of the Earth’s surface making it the largest ocean in the world. In regions bordering the North and South Poles, water temperatures go down to about 28 degrees Fahrenheit while the rest of the ocean’s surface temperatures stand at about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The ocean has an average depth of 14,040 feet and has an estimated volume of 170,000,000 cubic miles. The waters of the ocean are home to abundant marine life and provide 60% of the world’s fish.
The Atlantic Ocean comes in third and occupies about 41,100,000 square miles, which is about 20% of the earth’s surface and 29% of the water on earth. This ocean's lower temperatures compared to the Pacific Ocean are attributed to the higher contact with Arctic waters. The Atlantic has an average depth of 10,925 feet and has a volume of 74,471,500 cubic miles.
The 7,850,000 square mile ocean comes in fourth and has surface temperatures ranging from 28 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Its Antarctic waters are ultra-cold while the sub-Antarctic waters are slightly warmer.
The Arctic Ocean is the coldest ocean and has average temperatures of about 28 degrees Fahrenheit. The ocean measures 5.4 million square miles making it the smallest of the world’s oceans.
Impacts of Global Warming on Oceans
Some of the recorded effects of global warming include changes in sea surface temperatures and sea level changes. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ocean surface temperatures have risen by about 1.6°F over the past hundred years.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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