Liquids/Liquid objects/Earth

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This is a detailed, photo-like view of Earth based largely on observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Credit: Robert Simmon and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, NASA.

The image on the right is a detailed, photo-like view of Earth based largely on observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

The image is of the Pacific Ocean that composes almost half of the Earth's surface and indicates that Earth is a liquid object.

Oceans[edit | edit source]

Various ways to divide the World Ocean are shown using a rotating series of maps. Credit: Quizimodo.

Def. On Earth one "of the five large bodies of water separating the continents"[1] is called an ocean.

Pacific oceans[edit | edit source]

This is a globe view of the Pacific Ocean without any clouds. Credit: Hawaii Pacific University.
Pacific Ocean map is tagged in English. CIA World Factbook.

On the left is a globe view of the Pacific Ocean without clouds. The Pacific Ocean occupies nearly a complete hemisphere of the Earth.

At 165,250,000 square kilometers (63,800,000 square miles) in the area (as defined with a southern Antarctic border), this largest division of the World Ocean—and, in turn, the hydrosphere—covers about 46% of Earth's water surface and about 32% of its total surface area, making it larger than all of Earth's land area combined (148,000,000 square kilometers).[2]

Biggest seas in Pacific Ocean[edit | edit source]

Top large seas:[3][4][5]

  1. Australasian Mediterranean Sea – 9.080 million km2
  2. Philippine Sea - 5.695 million km2
  3. Coral Sea – 4.791 million km2
  4. South China Sea – 3.5 million km2
  5. Tasman Sea – 2.3 million km2
  6. Bering Sea – 2 million km2
  7. Sea of Okhotsk – 1.583 million km2
  8. Gulf of Alaska – 1.533 million km2
  9. East China Sea – 1.249 million km2
  10. Mar de Grau – 1.14 million km2
  11. Sea of Japan – 978,000 km2
  12. Solomon Sea – 720,000 km2
  13. Banda Sea – 695,000 km2
  14. Arafura Sea – 650,000 km2
  15. Timor Sea – 610,000 km2
  16. Yellow Sea – 380,000 km2
  17. Java Sea – 320,000 km2
  18. Gulf of Thailand – 320,000 km2
  19. Gulf of Carpentaria – 300,000 km2
  20. Celebes Sea – 280,000 km2
  21. Sulu Sea – 260,000 km2
  22. Gulf of Anadyr – 200,000 km2
  23. Molucca Sea – 200,000 km2
  24. Gulf of California – 160,000 km2
  25. Gulf of Tonkin – 126,250 km2
  26. Halmahera Sea – 95,000 km2
  27. Bohai Sea – 78,000 km2
  28. Bali Sea – 45,000 km2
  29. Bismarck Sea – 40,000 km2
  30. Savu Sea - 35,000 km2
  31. Seto Inland Sea – 23,203 km2
  32. Seram Sea – 12,000 km2

Atlantic oceans[edit | edit source]

North and South Atlantic Ocean are shown. Credit: CIA.
Relief location map shows the North Atlantic Ocean. Credit: Uwe Dedering.
Relief location map shows the South Atlantic Ocean. Credit: Uwe Dedering.

The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 km2 (41,100,000 sq mi).[6][7]

The Atlantic Ocean is divided into two parts, by the Equatorial Counter Current, with the North(ern) Atlantic Ocean and the South(ern) Atlantic Ocean' at about 8°N.[8]

Biggest seas in Atlantic Ocean[edit | edit source]

Top large seas:[9][10][11]

  1. Sargasso Sea - 3.5 million km2
  2. Caribbean Sea - 2.754 million km2
  3. Mediterranean Sea - 2.510 million km2
  4. Gulf of Guinea - 2.35 million km2
  5. Gulf of Mexico - 1.550 million km2
  6. Norwegian Sea - 1.383 million km2
  7. Hudson Bay - 1.23 million km2
  8. Greenland Sea - 1.205 million km2
  9. Argentine Sea - 1 million km2
  10. Labrador Sea - 841,000 km2
  11. Irminger Sea - 780,000 km2
  12. Baffin Bay - 689,000 km2
  13. North Sea - 575,000 km2
  14. Black Sea - 436,000 km2
  15. Baltic Sea - 377,000 km2
  16. Libyan Sea - 350,000 km2
  17. Levantine Sea - 320,000 km2
  18. Celtic Sea - 300,000 km2
  19. Tyrrhenian Sea - 275,000 km2
  20. Gulf of Saint Lawrence - 226,000 km2
  21. Bay of Biscay - 223,000 km2
  22. Aegean Sea - 214,000 km2
  23. Ionian Sea - 169,000 km2
  24. Balearic Sea - 150,000 km2
  25. Adriatic Sea - 138,000 km2
  26. Gulf of Bothnia - 116,300 km2
  27. Sea of Crete - 95,000 km2
  28. Gulf of Maine - 93,000 km2
  29. Ligurian Sea - 80,000 km2
  30. English Channel - 75,000 km2
  31. James Bay - 68,300 km2
  32. Bothnian Sea - 66,000 km2
  33. Gulf of Sidra - 57,000 km2
  34. Sea of the Hebrides - 47,000 km2
  35. Irish Sea - 46,000 km2
  36. Sea of Azov - 39,000 km2
  37. Bothnian Bay - 36,800 km2
  38. Gulf of Venezuela - 17,840 km2
  39. Bay of Campeche - 16,000 km2
  40. Gulf of Lion - 15,000 km2
  41. Sea of Marmara - 11,350 km2
  42. Wadden Sea - 10,000 km2
  43. Archipelago Sea - 8,300 km2

Indian oceans[edit | edit source]

Map shows The Indian Ocean with English captions. Credit: United States Central Intelligence Agency.

The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering 70,560,000 km2 (27,240,000 sq mi) or 19.8% of the water on Earth's surface.[12] It is bounded "E of Africa, S of Asia, W of Australia, & N of Antarctica area" with about 73,427,795 square kilometres (28,350,630 sq mi).[13]

Marginal seas[edit | edit source]

Marginal seas, gulfs, bays and straits of the Indian Ocean include:[14]

  1. Arabian Sea - 3.862 million km2
  2. Bay of Bengal - 2.172 million km2
  3. Andaman Sea - 797,700 km2
  4. Laccadive Sea - 786,000 km2
  5. Mozambique Channel - 700,000 km2
  6. Timor Sea - 610,000 km2
  7. Red Sea - 438,000 km2
  8. Gulf of Aden - 410,000 km2
  9. Persian Gulf - 251,000 km2
  10. Flores Sea - 240,000 km2
  11. Molucca Sea - 200,000 km2
  12. Oman Sea - 181,000 km2
  13. Great Australian Bight - 45,926 km2
  14. Gulf of Aqaba - 239 km2
  15. Gulf of Khambhat
  16. Gulf of Kutch
  17. Gulf of Suez

Southern oceans[edit | edit source]

Seas are in the Southern Ocean. Credit: Rooiratel.
Map shows the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. Credit: Hogweard.

Recent oceanographic research has discovered the importance of Southern Circulation, and the term Southern Ocean has been used to define the body of water which lies south of the northern limit of that circulation.[15] This remains the current official policy of the IHO, since a 2000 revision of its definitions including the Southern Ocean as the waters south of the 60th parallel has not yet been adopted. Others regard the seasonally-fluctuating Antarctic Convergence as the natural boundary.[16]

Biggest seas in the Southern Ocean[edit | edit source]

Top large seas:[17][18][19]

  1. Weddell Sea - 2.8 million km2
  2. Somov Sea - 1.15 million km2
  3. Riiser-Larsen Sea - 1.138 million km2
  4. Lazarev Sea - 929,000 km2
  5. Scotia Sea - 900,000 km2
  6. Cosmonauts Sea - 699,000 km2
  7. Ross Sea - 637,000 km2
  8. Bellingshausen Sea - 487,000 km2
  9. Mawson Sea - 333,000 km2
  10. Cooperation Sea - 258,000 km2
  11. Amundsen Sea - 98,000 km2
  12. Davis Sea - 21,000 km2
  13. D'Urville Sea
  14. King Haakon VII Sea

Arctic oceans[edit | edit source]

A bathymetric/topographic map shows the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding lands. Credit: NOAA.
Map shows the Arctic Ocean around the north pole, with borders as delineated by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), including Hudson Bay (some of which is south of 57°N latitude, off the map). Credit: CIA.
Map shows the Arctic circle. Credit: CIA.

The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceans,[20] spanning an area of approximately 14,060,000 km2 (5,430,000 sq mi) and is also known as the coldest of all the oceans. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) recognizes it as an ocean, although some oceanographers call it the Arctic Mediterranean Sea. It has been described approximately as an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean.[21]

"As an approximation, the Arctic Ocean may be regarded as an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean."[22]

The Arctic Ocean's surface temperature and salinity vary seasonally as the ice cover melts and freezes.[23]

Sea levels[edit | edit source]

This figure shows the change in annually averaged sea level at 23 geologically stable tide gauge sites with long-term records as selected. Credit: Robert A. Rohde.
This figure shows changes in sea level during the Holocene, the time following the end of the most recent glacial period, based on data from Fleming et al. 1998, Fleming 2000, & Milne et al. 2005. Credit: Robert A. Rohde.
This figure shows sea level rise since the end of the last glacial episode based on data from Fleming et al. 1998, Fleming 2000, & Milne et al. 2005. Credit: Robert A. Rohde.

Mean sea level (MSL) is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface (such as the halfway point between the mean high tide and the mean low tide); used as a standard in reckoning land elevation.[24] MSL also plays an extremely important role in aviation, where standard sea level pressure is used as the measurement datum of altitude at flight levels.

The upper figure at right shows the change in annually averaged sea level at 23 geologically stable tide gauge sites with long-term records as selected by Douglas (1997). The thick dark line is a three-year moving average of the instrumental records. This data indicates a sea level rise of ~27.5 cm from 1800-2000. Because of the limited geographic coverage of these records, it is not obvious whether the apparent decadal fluctuations represent true variations in global sea level or merely variations across regions that are not resolved.

For comparison, the recent annually averaged satellite altimetry data [1] from TOPEX/Poseidon are shown in red. These data indicate a somewhat higher rate of increase than tide gauge data, however the source of this discrepancy is not obvious. It may represent systematic error in the satellite record and/or incomplete geographic sampling in the tide gauge record. The month to month scatter on the satellite measurements is roughly the thickness of the plotted red curve.

The second figure at the right shows changes in sea level during the Holocene, the time following the end of the most recent glacial period, based on data from Fleming et al. 1998, Fleming 2000, & Milne et al. 2005. These papers collected data from various reports and adjusted them for subsequent vertical geologic motions, primarily those associated with post-glacial continental and hydroisostatic rebound. The first refers to deformations caused by the weight of continental ice sheets pressing down on the land, the latter refers to uplift in coastal areas resulting from the increased weight of water associated with rising sea levels. It should be noted that because of the latter effect and associated uplift, many islands, especially in the Pacific, exhibited higher local sea levels in the mid Holocene than they do today. Uncertainty about the magnitude of these corrections is the dominant uncertainty in many measurements of Holocene scale sea level change.

The black curve is based on minimizing the sum of squares error weighted distance between this curve and the plotted data. It was constructed by adjusting a number of specified tie points, typically placed every 1 kyr and forced to go to 0 at the modern day. A small number of extreme outliers were dropped. It should be noted that some authors propose the existence of significant short-term fluctuations in sea level such that the sea level curve might oscillate up and down about this ~1 kyr mean state. Others dispute this and argue that sea level change has been a smooth and gradual process for essentially the entire length of the Holocene. Regardless of such putative fluctuations, evidence such as presented by Morhange et al. (2001) suggests that in the last 10 kyr sea level has never been higher than it is at present.

The lower figure shows sea level rise since the end of the last glacial episode based on data from Fleming et al. 1998, Fleming 2000, & Milne et al. 2005.

At least one episode of rapid deglaciation, known as meltwater pulse 1A, is agreed upon and indicated on the plot. A variety of other accelerated periods of deglaciation have been proposed (i.e. MWP-1B, 2, 3, 4), but it is unclear if these actually occurred or merely reflect misinterpretation of difficult measurements. No other events are evident in the data presented above.

The lowest point of sea level during the last glaciation is not well constrained by observations (shown here as a dashed curve), but is generally argued to be approximately 130 +/- 10 m below present sea level and to have occurred at approximately 22 +/- 3 thousand years ago. The time of lowest sea level is more or less equivalent to the last glacial maximum. Prior to this time, ice sheets were still increasing in size so that sea level was decreasing almost continuously over a period of approximately 100,000 years.

Oceanography[edit | edit source]

This diagram depicts the Earth's thermohaline circulation. Credit: Robert Simmon, NASA. Minor modifications by Robert A. Rohde.

Oceanography, also called oceanology or marine science, studies the ocean. It covers a wide range of topics, including marine organisms and ecosystem dynamics; ocean currents, waves, and geophysical fluid dynamics; plate tectonics and the geology of the sea floor; and fluxes of various chemical substances and physical properties within the ocean and across its boundaries.

"Towards the middle of isotope stage 1, there is a pronounced decrease in transparent shells, while the opaque-white ones become the dominant group."[25]

"The copepods were the dominant group at station E offshore."[26]

"In March 1979, the dominant taxa were polychaete larvae and crustacean nauplii, while in May the dominant group was Nematoda."[27]

Ocean gyres[edit | edit source]

The five major ocean gyres are illustrated. Credit: NOAA.
All of the world's larger gyres are diagrammed. Credit: Avsa.

In oceanography, a gyre is any large system of circulating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. Gyres are caused by the Coriolis effect; planetary vorticity along with horizontal and vertical friction, determine the circulation patterns from the wind stress curl (torque).[28]

North Pacific Gyre[edit | edit source]

Significant ocean currents are involved in the circulation of the North Pacific Subtropical and Subpolar gyres. Credit: .

It is the largest ecosystem on Earth, located between the equator and 50° N latitude, and comprising 20 million square kilometers.[29]

The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre and the much smaller North Pacific Subpolar Gyre make up the two major gyre systems in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Pacific Ocean driven by the Trade winds and westerly winds.[30] Physical characteristics like weak thermohaline circulation in the North Pacific and it is mostly blocked by land in the north, also help facilitate this circulation. As depth increases, these gyres in the North Pacific grow smaller and weaker, and the high pressure at the center of the Subtropical Gyre will migrate poleward and westward.[30]

The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is an anticyclone meaning the circulation is in a clockwise direction around its high pressure at the center because of its placement in the Northern Hemisphere. This circulation is also associated with equatorward Sverdrup transport and Ekman downwelling.[30] Ekman transport causes water to flow toward the center of the gyre, creating a sloped sea-surface, and initiating geostrophic flow. Harald Sverdrup applied Ekman transport while including pressure gradient forces to develop a theory for Sverdrup transport.[31]

North Atlantic Current[edit | edit source]

The North Atlantic Current is the first leg in the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre. Credit: .

The North Atlantic Current (NAC), also known as North Atlantic Drift and North Atlantic Sea Movement, is a powerful warm western boundary current within the Atlantic Ocean that extends the Gulf Stream northeastward.[32]

It reaches speeds of 2 knots near the North American coast, directed by topography, the NAC meanders heavily, but in contrast to the meanders of the Gulf Stream, the NAC meanders remain stable without breaking off into eddies.[32]

As the warmer branch turns southward, most of the subtropical component of the Gulf Stream is diverted southward, and as a consequence, the North Atlantic is mostly supplied by subpolar waters, including a contribution from the Labrador Current recirculated into the NAC at 45°N.[33]

The principal cause for differences in winter climate between North America and Europe seems to be winds rather than ocean currents (although the currents do exert influence at very high latitudes by preventing the formation of sea ice).[34]

Gulf Stream[edit | edit source]

Warm, salty waters of the tropical Atlantic circulate north to the sub-polar regions of the North Atlantic via the Gulf Stream (dark blue arrows). Credit: Matthew W. Schmidt (Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX) & Jennifer E. Hertzberg (Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX).
Surface temperatures are in the western North Atlantic. The North American landmass is black and dark blue (cold), while the Gulf Stream is red (warm). Source: NASA.

The Gulf Stream proper is a western-intensified current, driven largely by wind stress.[35] The North Atlantic Drift, in contrast, is largely thermohaline circulation–driven.

"[V]ery little water from the Gulf of Mexico is actually in the Stream".[36] By carrying warm water northeast across the Atlantic, it makes Western and especially Northern Europe warmer than it otherwise would be.[37]

The Antilles Current, flows north and east of the West Indies.[38]

The trade winds blow westward in the tropics,[39] and the westerlies blow eastward at mid-latitudes.[40] This wind pattern applies a stress to the subtropical ocean surface with negative curl across the north Atlantic Ocean.[41] The resulting Sverdrup transport is equatorward.[42]

Because of conservation of potential vorticity caused by the northward-moving winds on the subtropical ridge's western periphery and the increased relative vorticity of northward moving water, transport is balanced by a narrow, accelerating poleward current. This flows along the western boundary of the ocean basin, outweighing the effects of friction with the western boundary current, and is known as the Labrador current.[43] The conservation of potential vorticity also causes bends along the Gulf Stream, which occasionally break off due to a shift in the Gulf Stream's position, forming separate warm and cold eddies.[44] This overall process, known as western intensification, causes currents on the western boundary of an ocean basin, such as the Gulf Stream, to be stronger than those on the eastern boundary.[45]

As a consequence, the resulting Gulf Stream is a strong ocean current. It transports water at a rate of 30 million cubic meters per second (30 sverdrups) through the Florida Straits. As it passes south of Newfoundland, this rate increases to 150 million cubic metres per second.[46] The volume of the Gulf Stream dwarfs all rivers that empty into the Atlantic combined, which barely total 0.6 million cubic metres per second. It is weaker, however, than the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.[47] Given the strength and proximity of the Gulf Stream, beaches along the East Coast of the United States may be more vulnerable to large sea-level anomalies, which significantly impact rates of coastal erosion.[48]

The current velocity is fastest near the surface, with the maximum speed typically about 2.5 metres per second (5.6 mph).[49] As it travels north, the warm water transported by the Gulf Stream undergoes evaporative cooling. The cooling is wind-driven: Wind moving over the water causes evaporation, cooling the water and increasing its salinity and density. When sea ice forms, salts are left out of the ice, a process known as brine exclusion.[50] These two processes produce water that is denser and colder (or, more precisely, water that is still liquid at a lower temperature). In the North Atlantic Ocean, the water becomes so dense that it begins to sink down through less salty and less dense water. (The convective action is not unlike that of a lava lamp.) This downdraft of cold, dense water becomes a part of the North Atlantic Deep Water, a southgoing stream.[51] Very little seaweed lies within the current, although seaweed lies in clusters to its east.[52]

Azores current[edit | edit source]

The diagram shows the Azores current as it is deflected by the islands from the Gulf stream. Credit: Nadia Mhammdi, Maria Snoussi, Fida Medina and El Bachir Jaaidi.

The diagram on the right shows the Azores current as it is deflected by the islands from the Gulf stream about 2014.

Southern Gyres[edit | edit source]

The South Atlantic Gyre (1943) is diagrammed. Credit: Jack.
The worlds oceans currents and gyres based on a "dolphins perspective" with flowing direction
red = warm, blue = cold. Credit: Avsa.

The "sedimentary processes along the shelf are driven by long-term factors such as Quaternary glacial–interglacial periods and shelf morphology, and by short-term factors such as fluvial and aeolian sediment supply, local climate (temperature, rainfall and wind) and hydrodynamic conditions (tides, swell, longshore current, the Canary Current and upwelling)."[53]

The South Atlantic Gyre is the subtropical gyre in the south Atlantic Ocean. In the southern portion of the gyre, northwesterly (or southeastward-flowing) winds drive eastward-flowing currents that are difficult to distinguish from the northern boundary of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.[54] Like other oceanic gyres, it collects vast amounts of floating debris.[55]

South of this gyre is the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which flows from West to East around Antarctica. Another name for this current is the West Wind Drift. This current allows Antarctica to maintain its huge ice sheet by keeping warm ocean waters away. At approximately 125 Sverdrup (Sv), this current is the largest ocean current.[56]

The Brazil Current is the western boundary current of the gyre that flows south along the Brazilian coast to the Rio de la Plata. The current is considerably weaker than its North Atlantic counterpart, the Gulf Stream.[57]

The Brazil Current begins at about 10-15˚S where the South Equatorial Current (SEC) splits near Cabo de São Roque, Brazil.[58] The current reaches a depth of 700m and the estimated transport at 12˚S is 2.5 Sv.[59]

The total transport can be from 70-80 Sv by 36˚S with half of it being in the recirculation gyre.[60]

The southern flowing waters become the Brazil Current which makes up the western boundary.[59] It joins the Falkland Current (Malvinas Current) at the Argentine Sea (see Brazil–Falkland Confluence), making it a temperate sea.[61] The Brazil-Falkland Confluence is where the Brazil Current begins to separate from the coast at about 36˚S and is when the saltier subtropical water of the Brazil Current meets the fresher subantarctic water of the Falkland Current.[59][62] The main transport of the current leaves the continental shelf at about 38˚S and the sea surface temperature at this latitude is estimated to be about 16-18˚C.[59][63] Although the latitude where the current separates from the coast has been thought to be farther north from July to September than from January to March.[64] If the Falkland Current has low transport then the path of the Brazil Current is dominated by wind stress curl. However, if the Falkland Current transport is increased then the Brazil Current separates from the coast at the observed 38˚S latitude.[65] The range of sea surface temperature and the salinity for the Brazil-Falkland Confluence is 7-18˚C and 33.6-36 psu.[62] The Brazil Current region also contains six major water masses within the system: Upper Circumpolar Water (UCPW), Lower Circumpolar Water (LCPW), Central Water (CW), Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW), Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW), and North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW).[60]

Southern ocean eddies[edit | edit source]

Eddies in the Weddell Sea are near Antarctica. Credit: NASA.

"The [image on the right] shows two large ocean circulation features, called eddies, at the northernmost edge of the sea ice pack in the Weddell Sea, off Antarctica. The eddy processes in this region play an important role in the circulation of the global ocean and the transportation of heat toward the pole. The ... image is the first wide-swath, multi-frequency, multi-polarization radar image ever processed. To date, no other spaceborne radar sensors have obtained swaths exceeding 100 kilometers (62 miles) in width."[66]

"The image is oriented approximately east-west, with a center location of around 56.6 degrees south latitude and 6.5 degrees west longitude. Image dimensions are 240 km by 350 km (149 miles by 218 miles)."[66]

"The ocean eddies have a clockwise (or cyclonic) rotation and are roughly 40 km to 60 km (25 miles to 37 miles) in diameter. The dark areas are new ice and the lighter green areas are small sea-ice floes that are swept along by surface currents; both of these areas are shown within the eddies and to the south of the eddies. First year seasonal ice, typically 0.5 meter to 0.8 meter (1.5 feet to 2.5 feet) thick, is shown in the darker green area in the lower right corner. The open ocean to the north is uniformly bright and appears blue, due to high winds making the surface rough. The colors in both images were obtained using the following radar channels: red is C-band vertically transmitted and vertically received; green is L-band horizontally transmitted and vertically received; and blue is L-band vertically transmitted and vertically received."[66]

East Madagascar Current[edit | edit source]

The mean speed of the East Madagascar Current varies between 0.2–0–9 m/s (0.66–0.00–29.53 ft/s) with a peak in spring and the lowest point in summer.[67] It creates a high-pressure area and affects the Indian Monsoon.[67]

The East Madagascar Current is intense and narrow and retroflects into the central Indian Ocean south of Madagascar similarly to the Agulhas Current south of South Africa.[68]

Seas[edit | edit source]


  1. a "large body of salty [salt][69] water",[70]
  2. "the continuous body of salt water covering a majority of the Earth's surface",[69]
  3. a "body of salt water smaller than an ocean, generally forming part of, or connecting with, an ocean or a larger sea",[69]
  4. a "lake, especially if large or if salty or brackish",[69]

is called a sea.

"In terms of geography, a sea is part of the ocean partially enclosed by land. Seas are smaller than oceans and are usually located where the land and ocean meet. Typically, seas are partially enclosed by land."[71]

Adriatic Sea[edit | edit source]

A map that shows the location of the Adriatic Sea. Credit: NormanEinstein.
This is the Blue Marble map of the Adriatic Sea. Credit: NASA.

The Adriatic Sea is a semi-enclosed sea,[72] bordered in the southwest by the Apennine or Italian Peninsula, in the northwest by the Italian regions of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and in the northeast by Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania—the Balkan peninsula. In the southeast, the Adriatic Sea connects to the Ionian Sea at the 72-kilometre (45 mi) wide Strait of Otranto.[73] The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) defines the boundary between the Adriatic and the Ionian seas as a line running from the Butrinto River's mouth (latitude 39°44'N) in Albania to the Karagol Cape in Corfu, through this island to the Kephali Cape (these two capes are in latitude 39°45'N), and on to the Santa Maria di Leuca Cape (latitude 39°48'N).[74] It extends 800 kilometres (500 mi) from the northwest to the southeast and is 200 kilometres (120 mi) wide. It covers 138,600 square kilometres (53,500 sq mi) and has a volume of 35,000 cubic kilometres (8,400 cu mi). The Adriatic extends northwest from 40° to 45°47' north, representing the Mediterranean's northernmost portion.[73] The sea is geographically divided into the Northern Adriatic, Central (or Middle) Adriatic, and Southern Adriatic.[75]

Aegean Sea[edit | edit source]

The location is shown for the Aegean Sea. Credit: NormanEinstein.
A 1528 map of the Aegean Sea is by Turkish geographer Piri Reis. Credit: Piri Reis.

The sea has an area of some 215,000 square kilometres.[76]

In the north, the Aegean is connected to the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea by the straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus.

The Black Sea outflow moves westward along the northern Aegean Sea, then flows southwards along the east coast of Greece.[77]

Analysis[78] of the Aegean during 1991 and 1992 revealed three distinct water masses:

  • Aegean Sea Surface Water – 40–50 metres (130–160 ft) thick veneer, with summer temperatures of 21–26 °C and winter temperatures ranging from 10 °C (50 °F) in the north to 16 °C (61 °F) in the south.
  • Aegean Sea Intermediate Water – Aegean Sea Intermediate Water extends from 40 to 50 m to 200–300 metres (660–980 ft) with temperatures ranging from 11 to 18 °C.
  • Aegean Sea Bottom Water – occurring at depths below 500–1000 m with a very uniform temperature (13–14 °C) and salinity (3.91–3.92%).

Arafura Sea[edit | edit source]

Map shows the Arafura Sea. Credit: CIA.

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) categorizes the Arafura Sea as one of the bodies of water of the East Indian Archipelago. The IHO defines its limits as follows:[79]

On the North. The Southeastern limit of the Ceram Sea [A line from Karoefa, New Guinea, to the Southeastern extreme of Adi Island, thence to Tg. Borang, the Northern point of Noehoe Tjoet Kai Besar (5°17′S 133°09′E / 5.283°S 133.15°E / -5.283; 133.15) and the Eastern limit of the Banda Sea [From Tg Borang, the Northern point of Noehoe Tjoet, through this island to its Southern point, thence a line to the Northeast point of Fordata, through this island and across to the Northeast point of Larat, Tanimbar Islands (7°06′S 131°55′E / 7.1°S 131.917°E / -7.1; 131.917), down the East coast of Jamdena Yamdena Island to its Southern point, thence through Anggarmasa to the North point of Selaroe and through this island to Tg Aro Oesoe its Southern point (8°21′S 130°45′E / 8.35°S 130.75°E / -8.35; 130.75).

On the East. The Southwest coast of New Guinea from Karoefa (133°27'E) to the entrance to the Bensbak River (141°01'E), and thence a line to the Northwest extreme of York Peninsula, Australia (11°05′S 142°03′E / 11.083°S 142.05°E / -11.083; 142.05).

On the South. By the North coast of Australia from the Northwest extreme of York Peninsula to Cape Don (11°19′S 131°46′E / 11.317°S 131.767°E / -11.317; 131.767).

On the West. A line from Cape Don to Tanjong Aro Oesoe, the Southern point of Selaroe (Tanimbar Islands).

Australasian Mediterranean Sea[edit | edit source]

Australasian Mediterranean Sea is a mediterranean sea located in the area between Southeast Asia and Australasia. Credit: CIA World Factbook.

The Australasian Mediterranean Sea is a mediterranean sea located in the area between Southeast Asia and Australasia.[80] It connects the Indian and Pacific Oceans.[81] It has a maximum depth of 7,440 m[82] and a surface area of 9.08 mil. km².

In contrast to the American Mediterranean Sea and Mediterranean Sea it is not surrounded by continents, only by islands and peninsulas. It includes the following seas:

  1. South China Sea - 3.5 million km²
  2. Banda Sea - 695,000 km²
  3. Arafura sea - 650,000 km²
  4. Timor Sea - 610,000 km²
  5. Java Sea - 320,000 km²
  6. Gulf of Thailand - 320,000 km²
  7. Gulf of Carpentaria - 300,000 km²
  8. Celebes Sea - 280,000 km²
  9. Sulu Sea - 260,000 km²
  10. Flores Sea - 240,000 km²
  11. Molucca Sea - 200,000 km²
  12. Gulf of Tonkin - 126,250 km²
  13. Halmahera Sea - 95,000 km²
  14. Bali Sea - 45,000 km²
  15. Savu Sea - 35,000 km²
  16. Joseph Bonaparte Gulf - 26,780 km²
  17. Seram Sea - 12,000 km²
  18. Straits of Johor
  19. Lombok Strait
  20. Luzon Strait
  21. Makassar Strait
  22. Strait of Malacca
  23. Qiongzhou Strait
  24. Singapore Strait
  25. Taiwan Strait
  26. Sunda Strait

Bali Sea[edit | edit source]

Location map of Indonesia shows Bali Sea. Credit: Uwe Dedering.
Location map shows Bali. Credit: Sadalmelik.

The Bali Sea north of the island of Bali and south of Kangean Island forms the south-west part of the Flores Sea, and the Madura Strait opens into it from the west.[83]

The sea has an area of 45,000 km2 (17,000 sq mi) and a maximum depth of 1,590 m (5,217 ft).[84]

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) defines the Bali Sea as being one of the waters of the East Indian Archipelago. The IHO defines its limits as follows:[85]

On the North. A line from the Western Paternoster Island to the East point of Sepandjang and thence through this island to the West point of Gedeh Bay on the South coast of Kangean (7°01′S 115°18′E / 7.017°S 115.3°E / -7.017; 115.3).

On the West. A line from the West point of Gedeh Bay, Kangean Island, to Tg Sedano, the Northeast extreme of Java and down the East coast to Tg Bantenan, the Southeast extreme of the island.

On the South. A line from Tanjong Banenan through the Southern points of Balt and Nusa Penida (Noesa) Islands to Tanjong Bt Gendang, the Southwest extreme of Lombok, and its South coast to Tanjong Ringgit the Southeast extreme, thence a line to Tanjong Mangkoen (9°01′S 116°43′E / 9.017°S 116.717°E / -9.017; 116.717) the Southwest extreme of Soembawa.

On the East. The West and North coasts of Soembawa as far East as Tanjong Sarokaja (8°22′S 117°10′E / 8.367°S 117.167°E / -8.367; 117.167), thence the Western limit of Flores Sea [A line from Tg Sarokaja to the Western Paternoster island (7°26′S 117°08′E / 7.433°S 117.133°E / -7.433; 117.133)].

In oceanography, the Bali Sea is concerned with the Indonesian Throughflow coming from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean, the flow of which mostly passes through the Bali Strait and Lombok Strait.[86]

Baltic Sea[edit | edit source]

Maps shows the Baltic Sea. Credit: NormanEinstein.
Satellite image shows the Baltic Sea in a mild winter. Credit: SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE.

The Helsinki Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area includes the Baltic Sea and the Kattegat, without calling Kattegat a part of the Baltic Sea, "For the purposes of this Convention the 'Baltic Sea Area' shall be the Baltic Sea and the Entrance to the Baltic Sea, bounded by the parallel of the Skaw in the Skagerrak at 57°44.43'N."[87]

The preferred physical border of the Baltic is a line drawn through the southern Danish islands, Drogden-Sill and Langeland.[88]

Banda Sea[edit | edit source]

Barents Sea[edit | edit source]

The location of the Barents Sea north of Russia and Norway, and the surrounding seas and islands is shown. Credit: NormanEinstein.

The Barents Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean,[89] located off the northern coasts of Norway and Russia and divided between Norwegian and Russian territorial waters.[90]

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the "Barentsz Sea" as follows:[91]

On the west: The northeastern limit of the Norwegian Sea [A line joining the southernmost point of West Spitzbergen [sic] to North Cape of Bear Island, through this island to Cape Bull and thence on to North Cape in Norway (25°45'E)].
On the northwest: The eastern shore of West Spitzbergen, Hinlopen Strait up to 80° latitude north; south and east coasts of North-East Land [island of Nordaustlandet] to Cape Leigh Smith (80°05′N 28°00′E / 80.083°N 28°E / 80.083; 28).
On the north: Cape Leigh Smith across the Islands Bolshoy Ostrov (Great Island) [Storøya], Gilles [Kvitøya] and Victoria Island; Cape Mary Harmsworth (southwestern extremity of Alexandra Land) along the northern coasts of Franz-Josef Land as far as Cape Kohlsaat (81°14′N 65°10′E / 81.233°N 65.167°E / 81.233; 65.167).
On the east: Cape Kohlsaat to Cape Zhelaniya (Desire); west and southwest coast of Novaya Zemlya to Cape Kussov Noss and thence to western entrance Cape, Dolgaya Bay (70°15′N 58°25′E / 70.25°N 58.417°E / 70.25; 58.417) on Vaigach Island. Through Vaigach Island to Cape Greben; thence to Cape Belyi Noss on the mainland.
On the south: The northern limit of the White Sea [A line joining Svyatoi Nos (Murmansk Coast, 39°47'E) and Cape Kanin].

Bering Sea[edit | edit source]

Bismarck Sea[edit | edit source]

Map contains the Bismarck Sea north west of West New Britain. Credit: CIA, W.Wolny.

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the Bismarck Sea as "that area of the South Pacific Ocean off the northeast coast of New Guinea", with the following limits:[92]

On the North and East. By the Northern and Northeastern coasts of the islands of New Ireland, New Hanover, the Admiralty Islands, Hermit Island, and the Ninigo Group, through Manu and Aua Islands to Wuvulu Island and thence a line to Baudissin Point in New Guinea (142°02'E).

On the Southeast. A line from the Southern point of New Ireland along the parallel of 4°50' South to the coast of New Britain, along its Northern coast and thence a line from its Western extreme through the Northern point of Umboi Island to Teliata Point, New Guinea (5°55′S 147°24′E / 5.917°S 147.4°E / -5.917; 147.4)

On the Southwest. By the Northeast coast of New Guinea.

Bohai Sea[edit | edit source]

Caribbean Sea[edit | edit source]

Satellite pictures, from NASA World Wind Globe, version 1.4, show the Caribbean Sea. Credit: ILA-boy.
Map shows the Caribbean and Central America. Credit: Demis map server.
Map shows the Caribbean Sea and its islands. Credit: Kmusser.

The Caribbean Sea is one of the largest seas and has an area of about 2,754,000 km2 (1,063,000 sq mi).[93][94]

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Caribbean Sea as follows:[95]

On the North. In the Windward Channel – a line joining Caleta Point (74°15′W) and Pearl Point (19°40′N) in Haiti. In the Mona Passage – a line joining Cape Engaño and the extreme of Agujereada (18°31′N 67°08′W / 18.517°N 67.133°W / 18.517; -67.133) in Puerto Rico.

Caspian Sea[edit | edit source]

This is a view from orbit of the Caspian Sea as imaged by the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite. Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC.
Map shows the area around the Caspian Sea, the yellow area indicates the approximate drainage area. Credit: Redgeographics.

The Caspian Sea is the largest inland body of water in the world and accounts for 40 to 44% of the total lacustrine waters of the world.[96]

The Caspian is divided into three distinct physical regions: the Northern, Middle, and Southern Caspian.[97] The Northern–Middle boundary is the Mangyshlak Threshold, which runs through Chechen Island and Cape Tiub-Karagan. The Middle–Southern boundary is the Apsheron Threshold, a sill of tectonic origin between the Eurasian continent and an oceanic remnant,[98] that runs through Zhiloi Island and Cape Kuuli.[99]

Celebes Sea[edit | edit source]

Celtic Sea[edit | edit source]

Bathymetric map is of the Celtic Sea and the Bay of Biscay. Credit: Eric Gaba.{{free media}}

The Celtic Sea is the area of the Atlantic Ocean off the south coast of Ireland bounded to the east by Saint George's Channel.[100]

The Celtic Sea receives its name from the Celtic heritage of the bounding lands to the north and east.[101] The name was first proposed by Ernest William Lyons Holt at a 1921 meeting in Dublin of fisheries experts from England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and France.[101] The desire for a common name came to be felt because of the common marine biology, geology and hydrology of the area.[101] It was adopted in France before being common in the English-speaking countries.[101]

"[T]he name Celtic Sea is hardly known even to oceanographers."[102] It was adopted by marine biologists and oceanographers, and later by petroleum exploration firms.[103] It is named in a 1963 British atlas,[104]

"[W]hat British maps call the Western Approaches, and what the oil industry calls the Celtic Sea [...] certainly the residents on the western coast [of Great Britain] don't refer to it as such."[105]

The definition approved in 1974 by the UK Hydrographer of the Navy for use in Admiralty Charts was "bounded roughly by lines joining Ushant, Land's End, Hartland Point, Lundy Island, St. Govan's Head and Rosslare Harbour, thence following the Irish coast south to Mizen Head and then along the 200-metre isobath to approximately the latitude of Ushant."[106]

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Celtic Sea as follows:[107]

On the North. The Southern limit of the Irish Sea [a line joining St David's Head to Carnsore Point], the South coast of Ireland, thence from Mizen Head a line drawn to a position 51° 0' N 11° 30' W.

On the West and South. A line from the position 51° 0' N 11° 30' W South to 49th parallel north (49°N), thence to latitude 46°30'N on the Western limit of the Bay of Biscay [a line joining Cape Ortegal to Penmarch Point], thence along that line to Penmarch Point.

On the East. The Western limit of the English Channel [a line joining Île Vierge to Land's End] and the Western limit of the Bristol Channel [a line joining Hartland Point to St. Govan's Head].

The seabed under the Celtic Sea is called the Celtic Shelf, part of the continental shelf of Europe. The northeast portion has a depth of between 90 and 100 m (300–330 ft), increasing towards Saint George's Channel. In the opposite direction, sand ridges pointing southwest have a similar height, separated by troughs approximately 50 m (160 ft) deeper. These ridges were formed by tidal effects when the sea level was lower. South of 50th parallel north (50°N) the topography is more irregular.[108]

Coral Sea[edit | edit source]

Map shows the location of the Coral Sea, bounded by Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. Credit: NormanEinstein.

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Coral Sea as follows:[109]

On the North. The South coast of New Guinea from the entrance to the Bensbach River (141°01'E) to Gadogadoa Island near its Southeastern extreme (10°38′S 150°34′E / 10.633°S 150.567°E / -10.633; 150.567), down this meridian to the 100 fathom line and thence along the Southern edges of Uluma Reef and those extending to the Eastward as far as the Southeast point of Lawik Reef (11°43.5′S 153°56.5′E / 11.725°S 153.9417°E / -11.725; 153.9417) off Tagula Island, thence a line to the Southern extreme of Rennell Island (Solomon Islands) and from its Eastern point to Cape Surville, the Eastern extreme of San Cristobal Island [Makira], Solomons; thence through Nupani Island, the Northwestern of the Santa Cruz Islands (10°04.5′S 165°40.5′E / 10.075°S 165.675°E / -10.075; 165.675) to the Northernmost Island of the Duff Islands (9°48.5′S 167°06′E / 9.8083°S 167.1°E / -9.8083; 167.1).

On the Northeast. From the Northernmost island of the Duff Islands, through these islands to their Southeastern extreme, thence a line to Méré Lava, Vanuatu Islands(14°25′S 163°03′E / 14.417°S 163.05°E / -14.417; 163.05) and down the Eastern coasts of the islands of this Group to Anatom Island (20°11′S 169°51′E / 20.183°S 169.85°E / -20.183; 169.85) in such a way that all the islands of these Groups, and the straits separating them, are included in the Coral Sea.

On the Southeast. A line from the Southeastern extreme of Anatom Island to Nokanhoui (reefs) (22°46′S 167°34′E / 22.767°S 167.567°E / -22.767; 167.567) off the Southeast extreme of New Caledonia, thence through the East point of Middleton Reef to the Eastern extreme of Elizabeth Reef (29°55′S 159°02′E / 29.917°S 159.033°E / -29.917; 159.033) and down this meridian to Latitude 30° South.

On the South. The parallel of 30° South to the Australian coast.

On the West. The Eastern limit of the Arafura Sea [The entrance to the Bensbach River (141°01'E), and thence a line to the Northwest extreme of York Peninsula, Australia (11°05′S 142°03′E / 11.083°S 142.05°E / -11.083; 142.05)] and the East Coast of Australia as far south as Latitude 30° South.

Dead Sea[edit | edit source]

The Dead Sea is the lowest surface feature on Earth, sitting roughly 1,300 feet (400 meters) below sea level. Credit: NASA's Earth Observatory.

The Dead Sea is so named because its high salinity discourages the growth of fish, plants, and other wildlife. This salt lake resides in a depression in the Earth's crust, where the continents of Africa and Asia are pulling away from each other. It has pulled in visitors and industries for thousands of years.

On a hot, dry summer day, the water level can drop as much as one inch (two to three centimeters) because of evaporation.

The false-color images above were captured by the Landsat 1, 4, and 7 satellites. The Multispectral Scanner System on Landsat 1 acquired the top image on September 15, 1972, by . The middle image was acquired on August 27, 1989, by the Thematic Mapper on Landsat 4. The third image is from the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus on Landsat 7 on October 11, 2011.

All three images include a combination of near-infrared, red, and green wavelengths. Deep waters are blue or dark blue, while brighter blues indicate shallow waters or salt ponds (in the south). The pale pink and sand-colored regions are barren desert landscapes, while green indicates sparsely vegetated lands. Denser vegetation appears bright red. Near the center is the Lisan Peninsula, which forms a land bridge through the Dead Sea.

East China Sea[edit | edit source]

The East China Sea and its relationships with the Yellow Sea, the Sea of Japan and the Philippine Sea are shown. Credit: DEMIS Mapserver.
Satellite Picture shows the East China Sea. Credit: Serg!o.

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the "Eastern China Sea (Tung Hai)" as follows:[110]

On the South.
The Northern limit of the South China Sea [From Fuki Kaku the North point of Formosa to Kiushan Tao (Turnabout Island) on to the South point of Pingtan Island (Haitan Tao) (25°25' N) and thence Westward on the parallel of 25°24' North to the coast of Fukien], thence from Cape San Diego (Santyo) the Northeastern point of Formosa to the West point of Yonakuni Island and thence to Haderuma Sima (24°03′ N, 123°47′ E).
On the East.
From Haderuma Sima a line including the Miyako Islands (Miyako Retto) to the East point of Miyako-jima (Miyako Sima) and thence to Okinan Kaku, the Southern extremity of Okinawa Island (Okinawa Sima) through this island to Ada-Ko Sima (Sidmouth Island) on to the East point of Kikai Island (Kikai Sima) (28°20' N) through Tanegashima (Tanegra Sima) (30°30' N) to the North point thereof and on to Hi-Saki (31°17' N) in Kyusyu.
On the North.
From Nomo Saki (32°35' N) in Kyusyu to the South point of Fukue Island (Hukae Sima) (Goto Retto) and on through this island to Ose Saki (Cape Goto) and to Hunan Kan, the South point of Jeju Province (Saisyu To) (Quelpart), through this island to its Western extreme and thence along the parallel of 33°17' North to the mainland.
On the West.
The mainland of China.

Greenland Sea[edit | edit source]

Map shows the location of the Greenland Sea between Greenland and Svalbard (Norway) in the Arctic. Credit: NormanEinstein.

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Greenland Sea as follows:[111]

On the North. A line joining the Northernmost point of Spitzbergen Svalbard to the Northernmost point of Greenland.

On the East. The West coast of West Spitzbergen, island of Spitsberge.

On the Southeast. A line joining the Southernmost point of West Spitzbergen to the Northern point of Jan Mayen Island, down the West coast of that island to its Southern extreme, thence a Line to the Eastern extreme of Gerpir (67°05′N, 13°30′W) [sic, actually at 65°05′N 13°30′W / 65.083°N 13.5°W / 65.083; -13.5] in Iceland.

On the Southwest. A line joining Straumnes (NW extreme of Iceland) to Cape Nansen (68°15′N 29°30′W / 68.25°N 29.5°W / 68.25; -29.5) in Greenland.

On the West. The East and Northeast coast of Greenland between Cape Nansen and the northernmost point.

Halmahera Sea[edit | edit source]

Ionian Sea[edit | edit source]

Borders of the Ionian Sea are yellow: traditional borders, orange: borders as used be Italian weather service Meteomar, red: borders as defined by International Hydrographic Organization. Credit: ~~.
Map shows the location of the Ionian Sea. Credit: NormanEinstein.

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Ionian Sea as follows:[112]

On the North. A line running from the mouth of the Butrinto River (39°44'N) in Albania, to Cape Karagol in Corfu (39°45'N), along the North Coast of Corfu to Cape Kephali (39°45'N) and from thence to Cape Santa Maria di Leuca in Italy.
On the East. From the mouth of the Butrinto River in Albania down the coast of the mainland to Cape Matapan.
On the South. A line from Cape Matapan to Cape Passero, the Southern point of Sicily.
On the West. The East coast of Sicily and the Southeast coast of Italy to Cape Santa Maria di Leuca.

Java Sea[edit | edit source]

Kara Sea[edit | edit source]

Labrador Sea[edit | edit source]

Ligurian Sea[edit | edit source]

Map shows the location of the Ligurian Sea. Credit: NormanEinstein.

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Ligurian Sea as follows:[113]

On the Southwest. A line joining Cape Corse (Cape Grosso, 9°23′E) the Northern point of Corsica to the frontier between France and Italy (7°31′E).

On the Southeast. A line joining Cape Corse with Tinetto Island (44°01′N 9°51′E / 44.017°N 9.85°E / 44.017; 9.85) and thence through Tino and Palmaria Islands to San Pietro Point (44°03′N 9°50′E / 44.05°N 9.833°E / 44.05; 9.833) on the Coast of Italy.

On the North The Ligurian Coast of Italy.

Mar de Grau[edit | edit source]

Mar de Grau is the official name for the body of water in the Pacific Ocean under the control of the South American country of Peru.[114]

Mediterranean Sea[edit | edit source]

Satellite caption is for a composite image of the Mediterranean Sea. Credit: Eric Gaba.
Map of the Mediterranean Sea shows subdivisions, straits, islands and countries. Credit: O H 237.

The Mediterranean Sea covers an area of about 2,500,000 km2 (970,000 sq mi),[115] representing 0.7% of the global ocean surface.

In oceanography, it is sometimes called the Eurafrican Mediterranean Sea, the European Mediterranean Sea or the African Mediterranean Sea to distinguish it from mediterranean seas elsewhere.[116][117]

Marginal Seas[edit | edit source]

The Mediterranean Sea includes 12 marginal seas:[118][119][120]

Number Sea Area (Km2) Marginal Countries
1 Libyan Sea 350,000 Libya, Greece, Malta, Italy
2 Levantine Sea 320,000 Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, United Kingdom
3 Tyrrhenian Sea 275,000 Italy, France
4 Aegean Sea 214,000 Turkey, Greece
5 Ionian Sea 169,000 Greece, Albania, Italy
6 Balearic Sea 150,000 France, Spain
7 Adriatic Sea 138,000 Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, Slovenia
8 Sea of Sardinia 120,000 Italy, Spain
9 Sea of Crete 95,000 Greece, Libya, Egypt
10 Ligurian Sea 80,000 Italy, France
11 Alboran Sea 53,000 Spain, Morocco, Algeria, United Kingdom
12 Sea of Marmara 11,500 Turkey
- Other 500,000 Consist of Gulfs, Straits, Channels and other parts that don't have the name of a specific sea
Total Mediterranean Sea 2,500,000 23 Countries

Note 1: The International Hydrographic Organization defines the area as generic Mediterranean Sea, in the Western Basin. It does not recognize the label Sea of Sardinia.[121]

Note 2: Thracian Sea and Myrtoan Sea are a sea that are part of the Aegean Sea.

Note 3: The Black Sea is not considered part of it.

Molucca Sea[edit | edit source]

North Sea[edit | edit source]

The map labels North Sea continental shelf features. Credit:
Image is of the North Sea. Credit: NASA.

The North Sea is bounded by the Orkney Islands and east coast of Great Britain to the west[122] and the northern and central Europe and mainland to the east and south, including Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France.[123] In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean.[122][123] In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat,[123] narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively.[122] In the north it is bordered by the Shetland Islands, and connects with the Norwegian Sea, which is a marginal sea in the Arctic Ocean.[122][124]

Norwegian Sea[edit | edit source]

The Norwegian Sea is outlined in red. Credit: selber.

The large volume of water in the Norwegian Sea with its large heat absorption capacity is more important as a source of Norway's mild winters than the Gulf Stream and its extensions.[125]

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Norwegian Sea as follows:[126]

On the Northeast. A line joining the southernmost point of West Spitzbergen to North Cape of Bear Island, through this island to Cape Bull and thence on to North Cape in Norway (25°45'E).
On the Southeast. The West coast of Norway between North Cape and Cape Stadt (62°10'N 5°00'E).
On the South. From a point on the West coast of Norway in 61st parallel north (Latitude 61°00' North) along this parallel to Longitude 0°53' West thence a line to the NE extreme of Fuglö (62°21'N 6°15'W) and on to the East extreme of Gerpir (65°05'N 13°30'W) in Iceland.
On the West. The Southeastern limit of Greenland Sea [A line joining the southernmost point of West Spitzbergen to the Northern point of Jan Mayen Island, down the West coast of that island to its Southern extreme, thence a Line to the Eastern extreme of Gerpir (65°05'N 13°30'W) in Iceland].

Philippine Sea[edit | edit source]

Map shows the location of the Philippine Sea. Credit: CIA World Factbook.

The Philippine Sea is a marginal sea of the Western Pacific Ocean east of the Philippine archipelago (hence the name), occupying an estimated surface area of 5 million square kilometers (2×10^6 sq mi).[127] The Philippine Sea Plate forms the floor of the sea.[128] Western border is the first island chain to the west, comprising the Ryukyu Islands in the northwest and Taiwan in the west, southwestern border comprises the Philippine islands of Luzon, Catanduanes, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao, northern border comprises the Japanese islands of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyūshū, eastern border is the second island chain to the west, comprising the Bonin Islands and Iwo Jima in the northeast, the Mariana Islands (including Guam, Saipan and Tinian) in the due east, and Halmahera, Palau, Yap and Ulithi (of the Caroline Islands) in the southeast, and southern border is Indonesia's Morotai Island.[129]

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the Philippine Sea as "that area of the North Pacific Ocean off the Eastern coasts of the Philippine Islands", bounded as follows:[130]

On the west. By the eastern limits of the East Indian Archipelago, South China Sea and East China Sea.

On the north. By the southeast coast of Kyushu, the southern and eastern limits of the Inland Sea and the south coast of Honshu Island.

On the east. By the ridge joining Japan to the Bonin, Volcano and Ladrone (Mariana) Islands, all these being included in the Philippine Sea.

On the south. By a line joining Guam, Yap, Pelew (Palau) and Halmahera Islands.

Salton Sea[edit | edit source]

The dark waters of the Salton Sea stand out against neighboring cultivation and desert sands in the middle of the Southern California desert. Credit: one of the Expedition 40 crew members aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station.

Savu Sea[edit | edit source]

Sea of Crete[edit | edit source]

Sea of Galilee[edit | edit source]

Sea of Japan[edit | edit source]

Sea of Marmara[edit | edit source]

Sea of Okhotsk[edit | edit source]

This map shows the location of the Sea of Okhotsk, with nation states listed. Credit: NormanEinstein.
Big map has the full Sea of Okhotsk with Hokkaido, Kuril islands, Kamchatka peninsula and Sakhalin (Karafuto). Credit: DEMIS World Map Server, Artanisen.

The Sea of Okhotsk is a marginal sea of the western Pacific Ocean.[131]

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Sea of Okhotsk as follows:[132]

On the Southwest. The Northeastern and Northern limits on the Japan Sea [In La Perouse Strait (Sôya Kaikyô). A line joining Sôni Misaki and Nishi Notoro Misaki (45°55'N). From Cape Tuik (51°45'N) to Cape Sushcheva].
On the Southeast. A line running from Nosyappu Saki (Cape Noshap, 43°23'N) in the Island of Hokusyû (Yezo) through the Kuril or Tisima Islands to Cape Lopatka (South point of Kamchatka) in such a way that all the narrow waters between Hokusyû and Kamchatka are included in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Seram Sea[edit | edit source]

Seto Inland Sea[edit | edit source]

Solomon Sea[edit | edit source]

South China Sea[edit | edit source]

This image is a screenshot from NASA’s globe software World Wind using a public domain layer, such as Blue Marble, MODIS, Landsat, SRTM, USGS or GLOBE. Credit: Serg!o.

Sulu Sea[edit | edit source]

Tasman Sea[edit | edit source]

Timor Sea[edit | edit source]

Tyrrhenian Sea[edit | edit source]

Wandel Sea[edit | edit source]

Yellow Sea[edit | edit source]

Rainbands[edit | edit source]

Band of thunderstorms is seen on a weather radar display. Credit: NOAA.

Rainbands are cloud and precipitation areas which are significantly elongated. Rainbands can be stratiform or convective,[133] and are generated by differences in temperature. When noted on weather radar imagery, this precipitation elongation is referred to as banded structure.[134] Rainbands in advance of warm occluded fronts and warm fronts are associated with weak upward motion,[135] and tend to be wide and stratiform in nature.[136]

Rainbands spawned near and ahead of cold fronts can be squall lines which are able to produce tornadoes.[137] Rainbands associated with cold fronts can be warped by mountain barriers perpendicular to the front's orientation due to the formation of a low-level barrier jet.[138] Bands of thunderstorms can form with sea breeze and land breeze boundaries, if enough moisture is present. If sea breeze rainbands become active enough just ahead of a cold front, they can mask the location of the cold front itself.[139]

Lavas[edit | edit source]

Eruption of Stromboli (Isole Eolie/Italia), ca. 100m (300ft) vertically. Exposure of several seconds. The dashed trajectories are the result of lava pieces with a bright hot side and a cool dark side rotating in mid-air. Credit: Wolfgang Beyer.{{free media}}
Advancing Pahoehoe toe, Kilauea Hawaii 2003, results when Kohola breakouts. Credit: Hawaii Volcano Observatory (DAS).
Many characteristics of a low-viscosity lava flow are visible in this image of Zhupanovsky and Dzenzursky volcanoes on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. Credit: Robert Simmon, NASA Earth Observatory, Landsat 8, the USGS Earth Explorer.
This view of Zhupanovsky shows some of the lava flows. Credit: Игорь Шпиленок.
This Pahoehoe is from Kīlauea in Hawaii. Credit: Tari Noelani Mattox, USGS.
Basalt lava (glowing rock) is oozing over basalt lava flow. Credit: USGS.
Glowing `a`a flow front advances over pahoehoe on the coastal plain of Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i. Credit: USGS.
An 'a'ā lava flow from Mauna Loa during its 1984 eruption. Credit: R.W. Decker, USGS.
Lava fountain erupting from the Pu`u `O`o cinder and spatter cone on Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i, 1983. Credit: USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.{{free media}}

Strombolian eruptions consist of ejection of incandescent cinders, lapilli, and lava bombs, to altitudes of tens to a few hundreds of metres. The eruptions are small to medium in volume, with sporadic violence.

The gas coalesces into bubbles, called gas slugs, that grow large enough to rise through the magma column, bursting near the top due to the decrease in pressure and throwing magma into the air. Each episode thus releases volcanic gases, sometimes as frequently as a few minutes apart. Gas slugs can form as deep as 3 kilometers, making them difficult to predict.[140][141]

Def. "melted rock ejected by a volcano from its crater or fissured sides"[142] is called a lava.

Usage notes

Geologists make a distinction between magma (molten rock underground) and lava (molten rock on the surface).

Def. "molten matter within the earth, the source of the material of lava flows, dikes of eruptive rocks, etc"[143] is called a magma.

"Streams of molten rock that ooze from gaps or vents in the Earth’s surface are called lava flows. Though generally slow-moving, these rivers of rock pose a hazard to everything in their paths. They can bury or burn homes and roads, ruin farmland for generations, and transform glaciers into muddy landslides (lahars)."[144]

"Lava flows can take many shapes and move at very different rates depending on the viscosity of the magma, the slope of the land, and the rate of an eruption. Some of the speediest flows travel 60 kilometers (40 miles) per hour; the slowest creep along at less than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) per hour. They can sometimes even flow for more than a year after an eruption has ended."[144]

"While viscous lava flows are defined by steep flow fronts and pressure ridges, low-viscosity lavas tend to move faster and create longer, narrower shapes. They also tend to have smaller flow fronts and levee-like structure along their edges. Many characteristics of a low-viscosity lava flow are visible in [the image on the right second down] of Zhupanovsky and Dzenzursky volcanoes on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. The image was acquired by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite on September 9, 2013."[145]

"In the image, younger lava flows appear grey, while older flows are covered by green vegetation. The exact ages of the flows are unclear, but the eruptions that produced them likely occurred during the past few thousand years. Distinctive lava levees are visible along the edges of many of the younger flows. These features form as lava cools and hardens along the edges or top of a flow while the center of a flow still advances."[145]

"In comparison to the Chao dacite in Chile (the product of viscous lava), the flows at Zhupanovsky [at lowest right] and Dzenzursky are much narrower and longer. They have smaller flow fronts (10 to 30 meters tall) in comparison to the sheer 400-meter cliffs at Chao, as well as more prominent lava levees along the edges. Like Chao, the flows shown above have pressure ridges caused by the compression of the cooling top of the lava as the flow advanced."[145]

Def. "a form of lava flow of basaltic rock, usually dark-colored with a smooth or ropey surface"[146] is called a pahoehoe.

"Ropy pahoehoe [shown in the fourth image down on the right, taken 11 June 1995] is the most common surface texture of pahoehoe flows. The numerous folds and wrinkles ("ropes") that are characteristic of ropy pahoehoe form when the thin, partially solidified crust of a flow is slowed or halted (for example, if the crust encounters an obstruction or slower-moving crust). Because lava beneath the crust continues to move forward, it tends to drag the crust along. The crust then behaves like an accordian that is squeezed together--the crust is flexible enough to develop wrinkles or a series of small ridges and troughs as it is compressed and driven forward."[147]

Def. a "form of lava flow [associated with Hawaiian-type volcanoes, consisting][148] of basaltic rock, usually dark-colored with a jagged and loose, clinkery surface"[149] is called an aa.

"`A`a (pronounced "ah-ah") is a Hawaiian term for lava flows that have a rough rubbly surface composed of broken lava blocks called clinkers. The incredibly spiny surface of a solidified `a`a flow makes walking very difficult and slow. The clinkery surface actually covers a massive dense core, which is the most active part of the flow. As pasty lava in the core travels downslope, the clinkers are carried along at the surface. At the leading edge of an `a`a flow, however, these cooled fragments tumble down the steep front and are buried by the advancing flow. This produces a layer of lava fragments both at the bottom and top of an `a`a flow."[150]

An effusive eruption is a type of volcanic eruption in which lava steadily flows out of a volcano onto the ground. There are two major groupings of eruptions: effusive and explosive.[151] Effusive eruption differs from explosive eruption, wherein magma is violently fragmented and rapidly expelled from a volcano. Effusive eruptions are most common in basaltic magmas, but they also occur in intermediate and felsic magmas. These eruptions form lava flows and lava domes, each of which vary in shape, length, and width.[152]

On the left: "A jet of lava sprayed into the air by the rapid formation and expansion of gas bubbles in the molten rock is called a lava fountain. Lava fountains typically range from about 10 to 100 m in height, but occasionally reach more than 500 m. Lava fountains erupt from isolated vents, along fissures, within active lava lakes, and from a lava tube when water gains access to the tube in a confined space [...]."[153]

"Kīlauea's current eruption is a natural laboratory for volcanologists Tephra falling from a lava fountain on September 6, 1983, helped build the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō cone, which eventually reached a maximum height of 255 m (835 ft) in 1986."[153]

Petroleums[edit | edit source]

This is a natural oil (petroleum) seep near Korňa, Kysucké Beskydy, Western Carpathians, Slovakia. Credit: Branork.

Def. a "flammable liquid ranging in color from clear to very dark brown and black, consisting mainly of hydrocarbons, occurring naturally in deposits under the Earth's surface"[154] is called a petroleum.

Coal tars[edit | edit source]

The lake tar pit at the La Brea Tar Pits is in Los Angeles, CA, USA. Credit: Buchanan-Hermit.

Def. a "black, oily, sticky, viscous substance, consisting mainly of hydrocarbons produced by the distillation of [derived from][155] organic materials such as wood, peat, or coal"[156] is called a tar.

Def. a thick black liquid produced by the destructive distillation of bituminous coal is called a coal tar.

It contains at least benzene, naphthalene, phenols, and aniline.

Naphthas[edit | edit source]

The beaker contains open-specification naphtha from Bangladesh. Credit:

Def. "any of a wide variety of aliphatic or aromatic liquid hydrocarbon mixtures distilled from petroleum or coal tar"[157] is called a naphtha.

Malthas[edit | edit source]

Def. a black viscid substance intermediate between petroleum and asphalt is called a maltha, or malthite.

Bitumens[edit | edit source]

Here, Lussatite, an opal, occurs with bitumen. Credit: Parent Géry.

Def. a black viscous mixture of hydrocarbons obtained naturally is called a bitumen.

In the image on the right, bitumen occurs with lussatite, an opal.

Pitchs[edit | edit source]

Pitch Lake (Asphalt Lake) near La Brea on the island of Trinidad in the West Indies is the largest natural Tar or Bitumen Lake in the world. Credit: Richard Seaman.
Mother-of-the-Lake, Pitch Lake, is in Trinidad. Credit: Jw2c.

Def. a "dark, extremely viscous material [remaining in still after distilling crude oil and][158] made by distilling tar"[159] is called a pitch.

Asphalts[edit | edit source]

Hand sample including natural asphalt, from Slovakia. Credit: Piotr Gut.

Def. a "sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid, composed almost entirely of bitumen, that is present in most crude petroleums and in some natural deposits"[160] is called an asphalt.

Hypotheses[edit | edit source]

  1. Underneath ice there may be water.

See also[edit | edit source]

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