The ocean is a major body of saline water covering over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. It is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas, but it can also be viewed as one continuous entity. The term is derived from the Greek word Okeanos, meaning “big sea.”
The most important feature of the oceans is their volume. The first quantification of ocean volumes came in 1921 when German geographer Erwin Kossina published tables that gave the distribution of water depth for the world’s oceans and adjacent seas.
Since then, much progress has been made in describing the shapes and sizes of the world’s oceans. Modern technology such as sonar imaging, submarines and unmanned underwater robots and cameras have allowed us to see more of the ocean floor than ever before. The ocean covers more than three quarters of the Earth’s surface, and yet, only a small percentage has been mapped or explored.
The oceans are home to a vast array of plant and animal species, and provide the most abundant source of protein for humans. In addition, many marine organisms have medicinal properties. However, the activities of the planet’s six billion people threaten the survival and quality of the world’s oceans, lakes and other inland waters. In order to preserve and protect these resources, the ocean must be managed by both scientists and governments.
Ocean acidification is a significant problem that affects the oceans and all life they support. It is caused by the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other human-caused chemicals in the atmosphere, which then combines with water to form carbonic acid. This lowers the pH of the ocean, a naturally alkaline substance with a normal level of 8.2.
Seawater has a natural pH of about 8.2 because it contains dissolved minerals that come from the weathering of continental rocks. As a result, it is able to balance the effects of carbonic acid on ocean chemistry. However, as human activity increases, the natural process is being disrupted, causing the ocean to become more acidic, a phenomenon known as ocean acidification.
As the ocean’s ph levels drop, it becomes more difficult for coral and other marine life to survive. Scientists are working to find ways to slow or reverse this trend, and to ensure that humans manage the ocean responsibly. This will require cooperation from governments, business and academia. It will also require stricter regulation to prevent pollution and over-exploitation of this great natural resource. This is a vital issue, as the health and well-being of the oceans and their ecosystems are essential to our own health and prosperity. The 2023 International Year of the Ocean is a chance to highlight these issues, and encourage people everywhere to take action. By supporting research, education and conservation projects, you can help to protect the world’s oceans.