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20 Common Characteristics of Southern Ocean

by Fitriani

The Southern ocean is actually the Antarctic ocean. It is one of the most important ocean in the world. Other than that, it’s also known for its massive area and extreme conditions. You can know more about the extreme conditions by reading these 20 Characteristics of Southern Ocean. Get to know all the interesting features of the Southern ocean. You might be surprised at what lies inside this ocean.

1. Filled with Ice

The Southern ocean is completely filled with ice. There are glaciers, ice sheets and so many huge icebergs covering most parts of the ocean. Some ice sheets are thicker than others. It is thought that the reason for this is because some ice sheets are formed at an earlier age than others. All the ice in the Southern ocean are very old.

2. Deep Trenches

Besides all those ice, the Southern ocean is famous for its extremely deep trenches. The deepest trench in the ocean is called the South Sandwich Trench. It is estimated that the depth of the trench is around 7.000 metres. As for the other trenches in the ocean, the average depth is 3.200 metres. However, some can also reach around 4.000 metres.

3. Drifting Icebergs

In the Southern ocean, icebergs are always slowly drifting around. It does not matter what season it is, the icebergs continue to move. These icebergs are massive. The are not only a couple of metres high, they reach up to hundreds. Other than being tall, they are also thick. The small fragments of the icebergs are also thick.

4. Long Winter

The Southern ocean experiences very long period of winter. The winter season starts from April and ends in October. In total, it lasts for about 7 months. During winter, the ocean water freezes. The ocean temperature can drop below -1 degree Celcius. As for the coastline, it doesn’t experience the same coldness as the ocean water so there might not be that much ice around.

5. Roamed by Marine Animals

The Southern ocean is also filled with plenty of marine creatures. There are penguins around, specifically the emperor penguins. The Blue whales are often found in this ocean too. There are many fur seals swimming in the ocean. The seals are huge in size and they love to search for food in the ocean water. The famous giant squid is also said to live in the Southern ocean too. You may want to read about Endangered Whale Species in the World

6. Powerful Wind

The wind is so much more powerful in the Southern ocean. In fact, it is the most powerful of all the winds on earth. It can even becomes dangerous at times. Ships often find trouble in traveling through the cold and windy region. The strong wind season last from the month of May to October. This strong, powerful wind contributes to forming harsh storms in the region. Read more about Effects of Wind on Ocean Currents

7. Biggest Ocean Currents

Other than being the home to the most powerful wind, the Southern ocean also has the largest ocean currents. The name of the currents is the Antarctic Circumpolar current. It flows all around the water in Antarctica. It is estimated that the currents regularly travel the distance of 21.000 kilometers. You may want to read about Effects of Ocean Currents on Coastline.

8. Contains Valuable Minerals

Many scientists believe that the Southern ocean is extremely valuable. It contains so many minerals that can bring in a lot of money and a lot of benefit to people. It is thought that a loot of oil and gas are hidden underneath all those ice. There might even be gold down there. That’s why, so many industries are so eager to have permission to mine the Southern ocean. Read more about Beneficial Economic Uses of Ocean

9. Many Subdivisions

The Southern ocean has many subdivisions. There are around 17 subdivisions in the ocean. These numerous subdivisions in the ocean include the Ross Sea, the Weddell Sea, the Lazarev Sea, the famous Drake Passage, the Amundsen Sea, the Somov Sea, the Davis Sea, the McMurdo Sound, the Bransfield Strait, the Cosmonauts sea and so many more.

10. Affected by the Sun for Ice Formation

The sun brings a huge impact for the Southern ocean, especially affecting all of its ice. During the season when the sun shines more in the ocean, the ice experiences a huge amount of melting. When the sun moves further away, the ice can then rebuilds once again. All the ice melt also affect the rise in the level of the ocean water in the world. You may want to read about  Causes of Sea Level Rise

11. Frequent Ocean Storms

The Southern ocean experiences frequent ocean storms too. In fact, they are even more rough and harsh. They storms often cause huge waves to rise while also carrying all those icebergs. Mix that with the powerful wind that they have, the ocean storms might become deadly for any humans and animals in the surrounding region. Read more about  Types of Ocean Storms

12. Very Large Body of Water

The Southern ocean is actually a very large body of water. In fact, it is one of the largest in the world. It places fourth right after the Pacific ocean, Atlantic ocean, and the Indian ocean. The Southern ocean cover largely around 20 million km2. As for the length of its coast, it measures up to around 18.000 km.

13. Cold Temperature

The Southern ocean is known to be very cold. The temperature is so extreme in the region. The average temperature reaches ranges from around 10 degree Celcius to -2 degree Celcius. The temperature difference from the ice and the ocean also contributes to the extreme storms that are present there.

More Characteristics (14-20)

  • Thriving Producers: Huge amount of zooplankton and phytoplankton.
  • Very Old: The ocean formed 30 million years ago.
  • Low Salinity Level: It is not as high as others. See more about Salinity of Ocean Water
  • Contains Huge Amount of Carbon: Higher level than the ones in the air.
  • Major Producers of Krill: Krill thrive in the ocean.
  • Frozen Water: Mostly during winter.
  • Surrounds a Continent: The Antarctic continent.

The Southern ocean is not immune to the climate changes that are currently occurring in the world. As this ocean affects the whole working of the world’s climate, the climate can make its characteristics change too. The Southern ocean can become more extreme in the coming years. It all depends on how well humans will take care of their environment.

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