Southern Ocean

Southern Ocean Geography Stats


  • Area > Comparative: The area of various small countries expressed in comparison to various areas within the United States of America.
  • Area > Comparative to US places: This entry provides an area comparison based on total area equivalents. Most entities are compared with the entire US or one of the 50 states based on area measurements (1990 revised) provided by the US Bureau of the Census. The smaller entities are compared with Washington, DC (178 sq km, 69 sq mi) or The Mall in Washington, DC (0.59 sq km, 0.23 sq mi, 146 acres).
  • Area > Note: This entry includes three subfields. Total area is the sum of all land and water areas delimited by international boundaries and/or coastlines. Land area is the aggregate of all surfaces delimited by international boundaries and/or coastlines, excluding inland water bodies (lakes, reservoirs, rivers). Water area is the sum of the surfaces of all inland water bodies, such as lakes, reservoirs, or rivers, as delimited by international boundaries and/or coastlines.
  • Area > Total: Total area in square kilometers
  • Climate: A brief description of typical weather regimes throughout the year.
  • Coastline: The total length of the boundary between the land area (including islands) and the sea.
  • Elevation extremes > Highest point: Highest point above sea level
  • Geographic coordinates: This entry includes rounded latitude and longitude figures for the purpose of finding the approximate geographic center of an entity and is based on the Gazetteer of Conventional Names, Third Edition, August 1988, US Board on Geographic Names and on other sources.
  • Note: This entry includes miscellaneous geographic information of significance not included elsewhere.
  • Location: The country's regional location, neighboring countries, and adjacent bodies of water.
  • Map references: The name of the CIA World Factbook reference map on which a country may be found. The entry on Geographic coordinates may be helpful in finding some smaller countries.
  • Natural hazards: Potential natural disasters.
  • Natural resources: A country's mineral, petroleum, hydropower, and other resources of commercial importance.
  • Terrain: A brief description of the topography
Area > A note includes Amundsen Sea, Bellingshausen Sea, part of the Drake Passage, Ross Sea, a small part of the Scotia Sea, Weddell Sea, and other tributary water bodies 2003
Area > Comparative slightly more than twice the size of the US 2011
Area > Comparative to US places slightly more than twice the size of the US 2008
Area > Note includes Amundsen Sea, Bellingshausen Sea, part of the Drake Passage, Ross Sea, a small part of the Scotia Sea, Weddell Sea, and other tributary water bodies 2008
Area > Total 20.33 million sq km 2008 4th out of 247
Climate sea temperatures vary from about 10 degrees Celsius to -2 degrees Celsius; cyclonic storms travel eastward around the continent and frequently are intense because of the temperature contrast between ice and open ocean; the ocean area from about latitude 40 south to the Antarctic Circle has the strongest average winds found anywhere on Earth; in winter the ocean freezes outward to 65 degrees south latitude in the Pacific sector and 55 degrees south latitude in the Atlantic sector, lowering surface temperatures well below 0 degrees Celsius; at some coastal points intense persistent drainage winds from the interior keep the shoreline ice-free throughout the winter 2011
Coastline 17,968 km 2011 16th out of 225
Elevation extremes > Highest point sea level 0 m 2008
Geographic coordinates 60 00 S, 90 00 E (nominally), but the Southern Ocean has the unique distinction of being a large circumpolar body of water totally encircling the continent of Antarctica; this ring of water lies between 60 degrees south latitude and the coast of Antarctica and encompasses 360 degrees of longitude 2008
Note the major chokepoint is the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica; the Polar Front (Antarctic Convergence) is the best natural definition of the northern extent of the Southern Ocean; it is a distinct region at the middle of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current that separates the cold polar surface waters to the south from the warmer waters to the north; the Front and the Current extend entirely around Antarctica, reaching south of 60 degrees south near New Zealand and near 48 degrees south in the far South Atlantic coinciding with the path of the maximum westerly winds 2008
Location body of water between 60 degrees south latitude and Antarctica 2008
Map references Antarctic Region 2011
Natural hazards huge icebergs with drafts up to several hundred meters; smaller bergs and iceberg fragments; sea ice (generally 0.5 to 1 m thick) with sometimes dynamic short-term variations and with large annual and interannual variations; deep continental shelf floored by glacial deposits varying widely over short distances; high winds and large waves much of the year; ship icing, especially May-October; most of region is remote from sources of search and rescue 2008
Natural resources probable large and possible giant oil and gas fields on the continental margin; manganese nodules, possible placer deposits, sand and gravel, fresh water as icebergs; squid, whales, and seals - none exploited; krill, fish 2008
Terrain the Southern Ocean is deep, 4,000 to 5,000 m over most of its extent with only limited areas of shallow water; the Antarctic continental shelf is generally narrow and unusually deep, its edge lying at depths of 400 to 800 m (the global mean is 133 m); the Antarctic icepack grows from an average minimum of 2.6 million sq km in March to about 18.8 million sq km in September, better than a sixfold increase in area; the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (21,000 km in length) moves perpetually eastward; it is the world's largest ocean current, transporting 130 million cubic meters of water per second - 100 times the flow of all the world's rivers 2008

SOURCES: CIA World Factbook, December 2003; CIA World Factbooks 18 December 2003 to 28 March 2011; All CIA World Factbooks 18 December 2003 to 18 December 2008


"Southern Ocean Geography Stats", NationMaster. Retrieved from http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Southern-Ocean/Geography

Southern Ocean Geography Profiles (Subcategories)

Area 5

Southern Ocean categories

Economy Geography Transport
Environment Government
  • Southern Ocean ranked #4 for area > total globally in 2008.