Distribution of Water and Land
The continental land masses extend in a north-south direction, with the greatest percentage of land in the Northern Hemisphere (table 3), and there is a more or less antipodal arrangement of land- and water-covered areas. The North Polar Sea surrounding the North Pole is opposite to the continent of Antarctica, which is centered on the South Pole, and the continental land masses represented by Europe, Asia, and part of Africa are antipodal to the great oceanic area of the South Pacific. The ocean waters are continuous around Antarctica and extend northward in three large “gulfs” between the continents, on the basis of which three oceans are recognized. The Atlantic Ocean extends from Antarctica northward and includes the North Polar Sea. It is separated from the Pacific Ocean by the line forming the shortest distance from Cape Horn (70°W) to the South Shetland Islands, and the boundary between the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans is placed at the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope (20°E). The boundary between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans follows the line from the Malay Peninsula through Sumatra, Java, Timor, Australia (Cape Londonderry), and Tasmania, and follows the meridian of 147°E to Antarctica. In the north the limit between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans is placed in Bering Strait, which is only 58 km wide and has a maximum depth of 55 m. Unless otherwise stated, the oceans as defined above are considered to include the semi-enclosed adjacent seas that connect with them.
Generally speaking, only three oceans are recognized, but it is sometimes desirable to make a further division. The waters surrounding
The nomenclature applied to subdivisions of the oceans is very confused. Generic names designating certain types of features, such as sea, gulf, and bay, are used somewhat indiscriminately and hence have little physiographic significance. For example, the term sea is used in connection with inland salt lakes, such as the Caspian Sea, with relatively isolated bodies of the ocean, such as the Mediterranean Sea, with less isolated areas, such as the Caribbean Sea, and even for some areas with no land boundaries, such as the Sargasso Sea in the western North Atlantic.
Several systems for naming parts of the oceans are employed in oceanographic, work. In certain instances the boundaries are selected arbitrarily by drawing straight or curved lines on the map where there are no land features which constitute natural boundaries. Such a system is followed by the International Hydrographic Bureau (1937). Wüst (1936) has suggested that the submarine ridges that are present at depths of about 4000 m be used to delimit the various parts of the oceans, and that the names now applied to the basins with depths greater than 4000 m be used to designate the areas above them. The general location of such boundaries may be seen in chart I. Oceanography is concerned not only with the form of the oceans as shown on a surface chart, but also with the distribution of properties and living organisms and the nature of the currents. Therefore, a system of nomenclature which indicates the relationships that exist in the sea would be very useful. Wüst's system, based on the ocean bottom topography, meets this purpose for the deep water but not for the upper layers. To formulate “natural regions” of the oceans, other workers, notably Schott (1926, 1935), have attempted to bring together not only geographic and topographic relationships, but also the distribution of properties and organisms, the climatic conditions, and currents. In the discussion of the distribution of organisms, fig. 220 (p. 804) shows how the oceans are subdivided upon the basis of the fauna1 distribution alone, and in the discussion of the water masses of the oceans, fig. 209 (p. 740) shows a subdivision based upon the characteristic temperature and salinity relations of the various regions. A comparison of such charts shows that, although there are certain boundaries which fall in approximately the same localities, there are many regions in which it is not possible to reconcile limits established in different ways.
In table 3 are given the areas of land and water between parallels of latitude five degrees apart. For the whole earth, the ocean waters cover
|Latitude (°)||Northern Hemisphere||Southern Hemisphere|
|Water (106 km2)||Land (106 km2)||Water (%)||Land (%)||Water (106 km2)||Land (106 km2)||Water (%)||Land (%)|
|All oceans and seas................................. 361.059 × 106 km2, 70.8%|
|All land...........:.................................. 148.892 × 106km2, 29.2%|
In table 4 are given the areas, volumes, and mean depths of the oceans and of certain mediterranean and marginal seas that together constitute the adjacent seas. The data are from Kossinna (1921), and in most instances the designated areas are readily recognized, but for details concerning the boundaries the original reference should be consulted. The Arctic Mediterranean includes the North Polar Sea, the waters of the Canadian Archipelago, Baffin Bay, and the Norwegian Sea, and is therefore separated from the open Atlantic by the line joining Labrador and Greenland in Davis Strait and running through Greenland, Iceland, Faeroe Islands, Scotland, and England, and across the English