The Southern Ocean is located in the Southern parts of the world. It surrounds Antarctica and the fourth largest ocean in the world. With its massive size, there’s no doubt that the Southern Ocean has made many great effects to how the world functions. It affects every living thing that lives in it or around it. The Southern Ocean also affects a huge portion of the global climate.
To know more about what it is capable of, here are 15 Importance of Southern Ocean. Even though there is still very little known about it, the impacts it gives are huge.
1. Research Ports
There are a number of ports serving as research bases in the Southern Ocean. They include the Rothera Station and Esperanza Base. The Southern Ocean is the right place to carry out research that involve studying climate change and the surrounding environment.
2. Study Climate Change
Scientists believe that the Southern Ocean is one of the keys in the study of climate change. The Southern Ocean will most likely display early signs of it before it can be seen or felt anywhere else. Studying the climate change here is important as it will eventually affect other places on earth.
3. Part of a Powerful Current
The Southern Ocean is a part of one the most powerful currents in the world. It’s known as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. This current connect the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian basins. The speed of the currents is extremely high and sailors know this. They often use the currents to help them sail across oceans quicker.
See more: Function of Ocean Currents
4. Overturning Deep Waters
The Southern Ocean is able to overturn deep waters. This process contributes to renewing the water but also transport heat to the South. The whole thing plays a role in accumulating nutrients and also spreading them to places where they can feed marine creatures.
Read more: Importance of Nutrients in the Ocean
5. Takes in Carbon Dioxide
The global climate is heavily affected by the Southern Ocean. The ocean is able to take in a huge amount of the carbon dioxide that is released in the atmosphere. Without the Southern Ocean, there could be major changes in the global climate that might turn out to be disastrous.
6. Has Two Ocean Gyres
The Ross Gyre and Weddell Gyre are found in the Southern Ocean. The Ross Gyre keeps the sea ice from melting away since the waters there have low salinity. As for the Weddell Gyre, it helps to maintain upwelling which makes the Southern Ocean rich with nutrients.
7. Maintains Ice Sheet
The ice sheet is an important part of Antartica. The presence of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current in the Southern ocean enables the ice sheet to accumulate. Without the Southern Ocean, the current won’t be able to drive away warm water that can melt the ice.
8. Carry Nutrients
The Southern Ocean is the place where cold and warm waters meet. It’s creates the perfect condition of upwelling for nutrients. The waters carry high amount of phytoplankton that can feed the fish and other creatures that roam around the environment. It contributes to the food chain which keeps everything going.
9. Holds Precious Natural Resources
Apparently, there are many kinds of precious natural resources that lie in the Southern Ocean. They include gold, manganese, oil and gas. These natural resources may become useful for future use. Until then, more studies can be conducted to understand more about their formation or the surrounding environment.
10. Contains Valuable Fresh Water
The icebergs in the Southern Ocean can be turned into a great source of fresh water. It is thought that it can last for a couple of months. Though there have been plans to turn them into fresh water, yet none have turned out successful. But the icebergs still act a reserve that might become significant in the future.
11. Home to Antarctic Animals
The Southern Ocean is home to various Antarctic animals. Some of the notable ones are the penguins, seals, squids and whales. They contribute to the biodiversity that the Southern Ocean contains. These animals play a part in the maintaining the marine environment as well.
12. Huge Deep Sea Creatures
The ocean floor of the Southern ocean is the perfect habitat for thousands of species. That include the huge deep sea creatures too. Due to the marine environment in the Southern Ocean, creatures in big sizes are more common. They can help in conducting studies and giving more knowledge about earth.
Also see: Characteristics of Deep Ocean Animals
13. Nesting Ground
The Southern Ocean provides the right type of nesting ground for many birds. Birds often migrate here in spring. They make their nests along the shores that are filled with many rocks. Reportedly, there can be more than hundreds of millions birds that fly to the Southern Ocean. Some of them are the albatrosses, the gulls and the terns.
Read more: Types of Ocean Birds
14. Origin of the Crocodile Icefish
The Crocodile Icefish can only be found in the Southern Ocean. The creatures do not have any red blood cells, hence they are often nicknamed as the ‘white-blooded’ fish. They feed on small fish and the plankton in the water. The Southern Ocean is important for the Crocodile Icefish as they won’t be able to survive anywhere else in the world.
15. Monitor Environmental Condition
In the Southern Ocean, there are Antarctic sponges. They can live for an extremely long period of time. However, they are quite sensitive to any changes that happen in the water. The Southern Ocean enables the sponges to live but they also give back. The sponges can help in monitoring the environmental condition of the Southern Ocean.
So those are some of the top importance of the Southern Ocean that have been studied so far. There are still many hidden potentials about the Southern Ocean that are still waiting to be discovered.