The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean on Earth and is located between America to the west and Europe and Africa to the east. It also borders the Arctic Ocean to the north and the Southern Ocean to the south. The Atlantic Ocean has a total area of about 106.4 million square kilometers and an average depth of about 3,300 meters. The ocean is known for its strong currents, including the Gulf Stream and the Canary Current, as well as a wide variety of marine life such as whales, sharks, sea turtles, crabs, and dolphins. The ocean is important for trade and international shipping, as well as for the fishing industry and tourism.
History of the Atlantic
It is believed that about 200 million years ago, there was no Atlantic Ocean. And there was a huge continent called Pangaea, which split 160-180 million years ago, again approximately (there are almost no exact dates in paleogeography). Further splits and divergence of the Earth’s lithospheric plates led to the Atlantic Ocean taking on an almost modern appearance about 5-10 million years ago. Many scientists tend to think of the Atlantic Ocean as the youngest ocean on Earth.
The very name of the Atlantic Ocean comes either from the Atlas Mountains in northern Africa, or from the name of the legendary continent of Atlantis, which supposedly existed in ancient times and died as a result of a terrible flood. There are still disputes and searches as to the location of Atlantis.
Atlantis in general is rich in myths, legends and mysterious stories. For example, one of the oldest geographical descriptions is of the voyage of a certain Greek Pythian from Massilia (now Marseille) in the IV century BC to the north of the Atlantic, where Thule, the land of the legendary cold and fog, is allegedly located. To this day, the exact location of Thule, like Atlantis, has not been determined.
Some enthusiasts claim that Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, the vanished fleet of Alexander the Great, Arab navigators, Templars, etc. could have sailed to the shores of America along the Atlantic even before Columbus. These legends of the Atlantic have not yet been confirmed in any way. But the superiority of Scandinavian navigators in the discovery of America is proven absolutely. Archaeological excavations have shown that the Vikings in the X century not only discovered Greenland, where they then lived for several centuries, but also reached the coast of the mainland. Remains of their settlements have been found on the Newfoundland Peninsula.
But the most important ocean for all mankind was the Atlantic Ocean during the era of the Great Geographical Discoveries, in the 15th and 17th centuries, when through the Atlantic, European civilization discovered how vast our world was. The Atlantic Ocean was the first to test the skill of European shipbuilders, and the practical experience of expeditions suggested how to create new technologies, how to improve cartography and navigation tools.
However, when mankind thought that it had already achieved perfection in the conquest of the elements, the Atlantic Ocean taught a harsh lesson.
On April 14, 1912, the world’s largest passenger liner, the Titanic, collided with an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage. With 1502 lives lost, the tragedy came as a shock to the world. The Atlantic demanded to be taken seriously, a lesson long remembered. The sinking of the Titanic has become a legend, with many books written and films made about it.
We should not hope that someday we humans will rule the Atlantic like in our own kitchen. Even in the XXI century, with much more advanced technology than it was at the time of the Titanic, experienced captains are seriously afraid of many places in the ocean that have earned a bad reputation. Just look at the Bermuda Triangle, where people and ships still go missing.
Geography of the Atlantic Ocean
Almost all of the Earth’s climate belts pass through the Atlantic Ocean, its length is about 20,000 km. Among the many seas that belong to the Atlantic Ocean, the Sargasso Sea should be highlighted. Because it is the only sea in the world without continental shores, and its waters are abundant in sargassum (brown seaweed).
The Atlantic Ocean is shaped like the letter S. It stretches from Greenland in the north to Antarctica in the south. Fresh water from most of the land pours into this vast body of water.
The second largest in the world after the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean has its own characteristic features. Its coastline is highly indented, it has relatively few islands, and the rivers that flow into the Atlantic Ocean or its marginal seas have the largest basins.
The Atlantic Ocean is also characterized by the complexity of its bottom topography. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge rises above the ocean bed to a height of 2 km. Some of the ridge peaks form islands, the largest of which is Iceland. Volcanic activity and frequent earthquakes occur in the area.
Another feature of the Atlantic is icebergs – huge mountains of ice floating on the surface of the ocean. They periodically break away from the icy surface of Greenland and Antarctica. These beautiful ocean wanderers are still a great threat to maritime vessels.
For Europeans, the Atlantic is firmly associated with the Gulf Stream, which has the most serious impact on the continent’s weather. It is thanks to the Gulf Stream which carries its waters from the Bahamas (where the Florida Current joins the Antilles Current to form the Gulf Stream) that European countries adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean can enjoy a climate which is milder than that observed at the same latitude, but away from the Gulf Stream. Suffice it to say that the Gulf Stream’s thermal power is equal to that of a million nuclear power plants. In the ocean the Gulf Stream moves at a speed of 6-10 km/h, its flow thickness is 700-800 meters.
The Atlantic Ocean is the most heavily used by humans and therefore the most exposed to pollution and other anthropogenic (with human involvement) impacts. Suffice it to say that fishing in the Atlantic is regularly the subject of disputes between different countries – it is very difficult to agree on quotas. Overfishing regularly leads to declining populations and the need for new restrictions. The presence of many large cities and developed countries on the Atlantic coast leads to the dumping of large amounts of pollutants into its waters.
- The International Hydrographic Organization has established the boundaries of the Atlantic Ocean: North by the boundary of the Labrador Sea (Atlantic) with the Strait of Davis (Arctic Ocean), the Atlantic Ocean with the Greenland Sea (Arctic Ocean) and the Norwegian Sea (Arctic Ocean), and the North Sea (Atlantic) with the Norwegian Sea (Arctic Ocean); to the south, with the Southern Ocean (surrounding Antarctica); to the southwest, with the Pacific Ocean through the Strait of Magellan (belonging to the Pacific Ocean); and to the southeast, with the Indian Ocean.
- The largest sea: the Weddell Sea.
- Major rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean: Amazon, Nile, Congo, Niger, Mississippi, La Plata.
- The most important currents are the Gulf Stream, the North Atlantic Current, the Canary Current, the North Passage Current, the Labrador Current, the South Passage Current, the Brazilian Current, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the Bengal Current, the Guiana Current, the Falkland Equatorial Current.
- Length (from north to south): about 20,000 km.
- Least width (east to west): 2,800 km.
- Greatest width: 13,500 km.
- Area: 91.4 million km2 (including inland seas).
- Greatest depth: 8742 m – Puerto Rico trench.
- Average depth: 3,600 m.
- Volume: 329.7 million km3.
- Average annual salinity of waters: 35%.
- Its main importance is transport; the northern part of the Atlantic is the most used sea route today. Subsea production of oil and gas, many coastal deposits of minerals.
- Use of biological resources – more than half of the world’s production of cod, tuna, herring, etc.
Climate and weather
- All the climate belts are represented.
- Most of the Atlantic Ocean – between 40º N and 42º S – is located in the equatorial, subequatorial, tropical and subtropical belts, where temperatures are positive all year round. In the tropical latitudes, the average temperature is +20ºC with abundant rainfall. In the subequatorial regions it is +10ºС in winter and +20ºС in summer, with precipitation mainly in summer. A frequent phenomenon – tropical storms. In the subtropics temperature of the coldest month of the year drops to +10 ° C, winter is characterized by abundant rainfall. In temperate latitudes, north of 40º N and south of 42º S, precipitation during the year is most often uniform (within 1000 mm), reaching a maximum in the fall and winter. Strong storms are typical, with temperatures ranging from +10…15ºС in summer to -10ºС in winter. The most severe climate is in the southernmost part of the Atlantic, in the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic latitudes. However, the Atlantic Ocean in the subarctic and the Arctic can be considered “warmer” only conditionally.
- Wonderful beaches on the coasts of all the continents that are washed by the Atlantic Ocean.
- The island of Madeira.
- Cape Verde Islands.
- Canary Islands and Antilles.
- American pilot Charles Lindbergh was the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.
- The most remote island in the world is Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic, 1600 km from the Cape of Good Hope. And the world’s largest island is Greenland in the North Atlantic Ocean.
- Proven oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico are thought to be 4 billion tons.
- In the center of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which runs in the central part of the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, there is a constant volcanic process. Emissions of molten rock – magma – press on the Earth’s crustal layers. As a result, America and Europe become 2 cm farther apart each year.