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The Oceans and the

importance of

The Oceans: Descriptive data
The global ocean (world ocean)
The continuous body of saline water on the Earth’s surface
Covers approximately 71% of Earth’s surface
 361,000,000 sq. km.
 139,000,000 sq. mi.

Average oceanic salinity: 3.5% (35 parts per thousand)
The principal component of the global hydrosphere
 Hydrosphere: The total mass of water in Earth’s biosphere
 Oceans, inland water, underground water, glaciers,
atmospheric water (rain, snow, clouds)

Average depth: 12,430 ft. (3790 m)

The Oceans: Major divisions
The global ocean is commonly divided into 5 major
oceans based on geologic features such as continents

The Pacific Ocean
The largest of the world’s oceans
 65,300,000 sq. mi.
 169,200,000 sq. km.

46% of Earth’s surface water (32% of total surface)
 Larger that all landmass on Earth combined

The “Peaceful Sea”
 Named by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan

( ½ way around globe)  The Pacific contains over 25.797 ft.000 islands  The equator divides the Northern and Southern Pacific The Mariana Trench  The lowest point on Earth (35. NE Russia (Bering Sea) West: Asia. below sea level)  Northwest Pacific Ocean (near the island of Guam) Mavericks. Half Moon Bay. Australia (Strait of Malacca) Diameter at widest point: 12.300 mi.Pacific Ocean: Physical geography Geographic bounds: South: Southern Ocean East: The Americas North: Alaska. CA .

) Length: 1.The Pacific Ocean basin Contains the “Ring of Fire” • • • • 40. mi. West.600 km. East of pacific basin) 452 volcanoes (>50% of Earth’s total volcanoes) 90% of all world earthquakes (>80% of major quakes) Direct result of plate tectonics Contains the Great Barrier Reef • • • • • • Located in the Coral Sea (Off NE Australia) World’s largest coral reef system (largest living structure) Area: 132.616 mi.974 sq. km.) One of the world’s 7 natural wonders Can be seen from outer space .000 km horseshoe (North. (2.400 sq. (344.


 106.The Atlantic Ocean The 2nd largest of the world’s oceans  41. km. mi.000 sq. Covers approximately 1/5 of Earth’s surface Named after Atlas from Greek mythology The Atlantic has the highest saline content of all oceans The equator divides the Northern and Southern Atlantic .400.000 sq.100.

000 mi. very powerful Atlantic current (w/ North Altantic drift) Major influence on climate (East coast N. Europe Diameter at widest point: 3. West coast Europe) Flows from the Gulf of Mexico up the eastern seaboard the US Splits: North stream across the North Atlantic South stream recirculates off West Africa . (US to Africa)  The landmass that drains into the Atlantic is 4 times larger than that of the Pacific or Indian Oceans The Mid-Atlantic Ridge  Major underwater mountain range (result of plate tectonics)  The Atlantic Ocean is widening (2. America. Arctic Ocean East: Africa.5 cm/year) The Gulf Stream     Warm.Atlantic Ocean: Physical geography Geographic bounds: South: Southern Ocean West: The Americas North: Greenland.


mi. km.  73.556.The Indian Ocean The 3rd largest of the world’s oceans  28.400.000 sq. Contains approximately 20% of Earth’s surface water Relatively warm overall water temperature Home to the Gulf of Aden (Somali piracy) .000 sq.

Indian Ocean: Physical geography Geographic bounds: South: Southern Ocean North: Asia East: Indonesia. (Australia to Africa) The Choke Point Ocean  The Indian Ocean contains and is fed by some of the world’s major shipping choke points  The Strait of Malacca  The Strait of Hormuz  The Suez Canal  The Persian Gulf  Major ocean for natural resource (petroleum.200 mi. natural gas) transportation  Approximately 40% of offshore production . Australia West: Africa Diameter at widest point: 6.


S.000 sq.5 times the size of the U.440.056.The Arctic Ocean The smallest of the world’s oceans  5. km. The shallowest of the world’s oceans Majority covered by sea ice most of the year Lowest level of salinity of all oceans  Low evaporation  More freshwater intake  Narrow connections to more saline oceans .  14. Approximately 1.000 sq. mi.

Alaska. Greenland. Northern Europe. Russia Contains the North Pole (geographic)  In middle of Arctic Ocean  Is where Santa Claus lives…right? .Arctic Ocean: Physical geography Geographic bounds:  Surrounded by Eurasia and North America  Major coasts: Canada.


Most recent official designation (2000)  International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) ruling  The Limits of Oceans and Seas  New focus on ocean currents  Antarctic circumpolar current .327.The Southern Ocean The 4th largest of the world’s oceans  7.848.  20. mi.000 sq. km.000 sq.

Atlantic. and Indian oceans The Antarctic Treaty System (ATS)       Defines Antarctica as all ice and land south of the 60 th parallel Only landmass without a native population (who controls?) Sets aside Antarctica for scientific preserve No state can claim as territory All military activity banned on the continent ATS is the first Cold War arms control agreement (1959-1961) .Southern Ocean: Physical geography Geographic bounds:  The Southern Ocean completely encircles the Antarctic continent  Its outward boundaries are the southernmost points of the Pacific.



So. Why does ocean geography matter? .

Power. Wealth. and Place • The study of politics is broadly constructed as the study of the acquisition of power and wealth by nations  Particularly in International Relations • For much of human history. the acquisition of power and wealth has involved the control of “land” – physical place .

of the causes of international strife. there can be no real understanding of the rise and decline of nations. or of man’s repeated attempts to establish a more stable political order upon the earth” ~ Harold and Margaret Sprout . the earth. and of his ever-changing adjustment and relationship to that habitat.Control of place “Without knowledge both of man’s physical habitat. of national aims and policies.

Wealth. nations have increasingly realized that physical control of physical land – place – is not essential • States can be wealthy and powerful by controlling space – that is. and Space • Since the beginning of the 20th century.Power. having influence over the “land” that is important to you .

World Trade Flows 2012 .

Political geography. etc • Through how they manage their relationship to their own geography • And through how they manage their relationship to world geography – In light of constantly changing technological advances and policy preferences . rivers. ocean access. power and wealth States acquire wealth and power: • Through their own geography: natural resources.

a nation’s relationship to them will change. given technological advances .Important Concept #1 Political geography acknowledges that: •While hard physical realities are largely immutable.

or Submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBMs).For example: • The development of navigation techniques. of bigger and faster ships. of deep-sea mining equipment…. • Have all changed our relationship to the physical reality of the ocean .

Geography and the relationship between land and sea • Alfred Thayer Mahan (1890) • Sir Halford Mackinder (1904) • Nicholas John Spykman (1944) • Donald Meinig (1950s) .

Alfred Thayer Mahan • The influence of sea power upon history (1890) • The importance of sea power to a nation • The sea is the “great highway” • It is the ultimate determinant of the wealth and strength of states .

The importance of sea power Nations that have controlled the seas have consistently emerged as the great powers of history – – – – – – Great Britain Holland Spain Portugal The United States (Note on China) ? .

Acquiring sea power The extent to which the sea is used successfully by a state depends on its: – – – – – – – Location Physical configuration Territory Resources Population National character Type of government ? .

in part. it was cut off from the age of exploration and the stimulating influences of international trade and interaction . due to its lack of good deepwater ports to support international shipping • Therefore.A note on Africa… • Some political geographers believe Africa remained so underdeveloped.

Donald Meinig (1950s) • Nations that are both sea and land states may change their orientation from one to the other • Oceans give states a choice • Note: China is doing this today .

In brief • Alfred Thayer Mahan (1890) – Importance of sea power • Donald Meinig (1950s) – States can change from “land” to “sea” .

must deal with their natural world to their advantage. in order to be successful.Political Geography: A summing up • These theories help us remember the importance of the physical • Nations. or risk the loss of power and wealth .

social and military well-being • We will focus on the ability of nations to control their RGS. given their available capabilities • For example. political. but the US can do more about it .Important Concept #2 • Relevant geographical space (RGS) – that geographical area important to a nation’s economic. China and the US may have the same RGS.

then.Important Concept #3 • Access to – or control of – the world’s oceans matter to a nation’s power (even if the nation is land-locked) • We can speak. of a nation’s relevant geographical oceans .