Oceans For Dummies
eBook - ePub

Oceans For Dummies

Ashlan Cousteau, Philippe Cousteau, Joseph Kraynak

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eBook - ePub

Oceans For Dummies

Ashlan Cousteau, Philippe Cousteau, Joseph Kraynak

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Dive deep to explore the ocean

From how most of our oxygen is created by phytoplankton, to how currents control our climate, to the marine food chain and the importance of coral, this is the holy grail of ocean books that's easy for everyone to digest.

It features fun facts about some of the most incredible, bizarre, and fascinating creatures in the ocean, from mantis shrimp that can strike things with the speed of a.22 caliber bullet to fish with clear heads that can see out of the top of their skulls. The ocean is full of wonders and there is still so much left to explore and understand.

  • How our oceans work
  • What creatures live in the ocean
  • Find out how the ocean regulates our climate and weather patterns
  • How growing pollution threatens our ocean and its inhabitants

Oceans For Dummies is perfect for anyone with an interest in the ocean, including kids, adults, students, ocean lovers, surfers, fishermen, conservationists, sailors, and everyone in between.

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Información

Editorial
For Dummies
Año
2021
ISBN
9781119654452
Edición
1
Categoría
Physical Sciences
Categoría
Oceanography
Part 1

Getting Started with Your Ocean Voyage

IN THIS PART …
Take a quick primer on ocean fundamentals — from dividing the ocean into oceans (plural) and getting up to speed on the water cycle to engaging in a quick meet-and-greet with the ocean’s inhabitants.
Take inventory of the various ways the ocean contributes to our health and happiness, not to mention our very existence.
Discover how the ocean and oceans formed and how life on Earth may have begun.
Trace the evolution of marine life from the Paleozoic to the Cenozoic era and everything in between.
Look ahead to find out what the future of the ocean might look like.
Chapter 1

Brushing Up on Ocean Fundamentals

IN THIS CHAPTER
Bullet
Getting a big-picture view of the ocean and related bodies of water
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Wrapping your brain around the water cycle
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Sampling the vast diversity of ocean life
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Building a mutually beneficial relationship with the ocean
Before you dive into any large or complex topic, you’re wise to step back and look at the big picture. A general understanding provides a framework on which to hang the details. In this chapter, we provide that framework, establishing a context for understanding the many facets of the ocean and how they all fit together.
We start by introducing you to the ocean and breaking it down into its five “oceans.” Then, we get into a few topics in the realm of physical oceanography — the water cycle, the shapes of the ocean basins, meteorology, and other properties and processes that explain what makes the ocean tick from a physical standpoint. We then introduce you to the various groups of life-forms that populate the ocean — plants, animals, and beings that fit in neither (or both) categories. Finally, we wrap things up with a discussion of the ocean’s current state and the human-ocean relationship — the benefits we gain from the ocean and our responsibilities as environmental stewards in protecting and preserving it.
Get ready for a wild ride. In this chapter, we cover a lot of ground, not to mention all that water!

Taking a Nickel Tour of the Ocean(s)

The ocean is big. How big? Well, it covers about 360 million square kilometers (140 million square miles), which is just a smidgen more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface. Volume-wise it contains approximately 1.3 billion cubic kilometers (321 million cubic miles) of water — that translates to about 352 quintillion gallons, which accounts for about 97 percent of Earth’s water. In terms of living space, the ocean comprises about 99 percent of the biosphere — all land, water, and atmosphere where life on Earth exists.
Because it’s so big, people have developed all sorts of ways to slice and dice it to better understand and describe the different areas that make it up.

Dividing the ocean into oceans … or not

Earth has only one ocean, which is why we will refer to it as the ocean (singular) throughout this book. Geographically, it’s divided into four or five oceans, depending on who’s doing the dividing. Prior to the year 2000, text books recognized four oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic. Sometime around the year 2000, the International Hydrographic Organization designated a fifth ocean the Southern Ocean — a band that wraps around the world from the coast of Antarctica to 60 degrees south latitude (see Figure 1-1). Here’s a brief description of each of the five oceans, in order of size, because, well, size matters.
  • Pacific Ocean: The largest of the five “oceans,” the Pacific stretches from the Arctic to the Southern Ocean and from east of Asia and Australia to the Americas. It covers more area than all the land on Earth combined and is more than double the surface area of the Atlantic Ocean. It also wins the deepest point in the ocean contest with the Mariana Trench, which is nearly 11 kilometers (about 7 miles) deep.
  • Atlantic Ocean: This next largest ocean lies between the Americas and the continents of Europe and Africa. It’s home to the Bermuda Triangle, the Sargasso Sea, the Gulf Stream, and the hurricanes that rattle the Caribbean Islands and the southern and eastern coasts of the U.S. The North Atlantic is by far the most thoroughly explored, best understood, and most heavily fished of the five “oceans.”
  • Indian Ocean: Nestled between Africa (to the west) and Australia (to the east) and between Asia (to the north) and the Southern Ocean (below it), the Indian Ocean ranks third in surface area but first in warmth.
  • Southern Ocean: The Southern Ocean is relatively small, but its average depth is greater than the average depth of any of the other four oceans — four to five kilometers (2.5 to 3 miles) deep! It’s best known for its strong, sustained easterly winds, its huge waves (due to the strong, sustained winds), and its frigid environment; during its winter, nearly the entire surface of the Southern Ocean is frozen. It’s also home to the world’s largest ocean current — the Antarctic Circumpolar Current — and it is chock full of nutrients.
  • Arctic Ocean: Surrounding the North Pole and bordering the northern edges of North America, Asia, and Europe is the Arctic Ocean. Most of it is located within the Arctic Circle, from the North Pole down to about 70 degrees northern latitude. It’s the smallest and shallowest of the five “oceans,” and for most of the year, most of its surface area consists of ice 1 to 10 meters (3 to 33 feet) thick. The Arctic Ocean is best known for its wildlife (including polar bears, whales, and seals) and for its natural resources (primarily oil).
Schematic illustration of the ocean’s five oceans.
©John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
FIGURE 1-1: The ocean’s five “oceans.”

Recognizing the ocean zones

Oceanographers have divided the ocean into zones to better understand and describe the physical characteristics of the ocean, the ecosystems (biological communities) in each zone, and the inhabitants of those ecosystems. Zoning can be simple, such as dividing the ocean into two zones — photic and aphotic:
  • Photic (light): The top 200-meter (650-foot) layer of the ocean through which enough light penetrates enabling photosynthesis to occur. (Photosynthesis is the process of using the sun’s energy to produce food from carbon dioxide and water.)
  • Aphotic (dark): The part of the ocean from 200 meters down to the bottom, where it’s totally dark.
Another simple zoning system involves dividing the ocean into pelagic and benthic layers:
  • Pelagic (top): The water above the ocean floor.
  • Benthic (bottom): The seafloor and the thick layer of sediments below the seafloor.
In Chapter 4, we cover two more-detailed approaches to zoning the ocean — one that divides it into five horizontal layers (like layers of a cake) based on depth, and another that divides it into three vertical zones from coast to open ocean.

Dropping in on the different ecosystems

An ecosystem is a biological community of organisms interacting with their physical environment as a whole. Think of it as a mostly self-contained, self-reliant neighborhood with a diverse population. Land-based ecosystems include grasslands, deserts, rainforests, and wetlands. Common marine ecosystems include coral reefs, estuaries (where fresh water and salt water mix), kelp (seaweed) beds and forests, mudflats, rocky shores, sandy shores, seagrass meadows, and more. Lesser known ecosystems develop near the bottom of the deep sea and include communities that form around hydrothermal vents (which spew hot, mineral-rich water that some bacteria feed on), whale falls (literally, dead whales that sink to the bottom), and cold seeps (where methane gas is released that some bacteria and archaea feed on).
What’s so fascinating about ecosystems is that the community of residents that live within them evolved together, adapting to the unique conditions of a particular place as well as each other. In Chapter 5, we explore numerous marine ecosystems and introduce you to the plants, animals, and other organisms typically found in each.

Going with the Flow: The Physical Properties of the Ocean

Even without all the wonderful living organisms that call it home, the ocean is amazing. In fact, it is very much like a living thing itself; it breathes, it moves, it’s constantly changing, and it interacts with everything around it — land, water, and air. It plays a huge role in controlling Earth’s climate and making the weather, and it distributes heat and nutrients around the globe, making the entire world more habitable for every living thing.
In this section, we get physical by focusing on the salt in seawater, the various processes that maintain a steady flow of water around the world, and the interactions among land, sea, and air.

Getting up to speed on the water cycle

While plants and animals have life cycles, water has a life cycle of its own. Following the rule of “what goes up must come down,” the life cycle of water, commonly referred to as the hydrologic cycle, describes the way water travels around the globe from ocean to air to land and back again to the ocean (see Figure 1-2).
Schematic illustration of the hydrologic (water) cycle.
©John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
FIGURE 1-2: The hydrologic (water) cycle.
Water is a wonderous element which can take on three different states of being. It can exist in a solid state (ice), a liquid form (water), or a gaseous state (steam), in which it evaporates and becomes vapor (humidity). When humid air is cooled, the water forms droplets and falls back to the earth as precipitation — in either liquid form (as rain) or in solid form (as snow or hail).

Knowing what makes seawater salty

Why are most lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams all freshwater, whereas the ocean is salty? Mostly because of the water cycle. Most of the salt in the ocean comes from freshwater rivers and runoff from land. As the water moves over the land and rocks and through t...

Índice

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Introduction
  5. Part 1: Getting Started with Your Ocean Voyage
  6. Part 2: Finding Your Way Around
  7. Part 3: Sampling the Vast Diversity of Sea Life
  8. Part 4: Grasping Basic Ocean Physics
  9. Part 5: Understanding the Human-Ocean Connection
  10. Part 6: The Part of Tens
  11. Index
  12. About the Authors
  13. Connect with Dummies
  14. End User License Agreement
Estilos de citas para Oceans For Dummies

APA 6 Citation

Cousteau, A., Cousteau, P., & Kraynak, J. (2021). Oceans For Dummies (1st ed.). Wiley. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/2105296/oceans-for-dummies-pdf (Original work published 2021)

Chicago Citation

Cousteau, Ashlan, Philippe Cousteau, and Joseph Kraynak. (2021) 2021. Oceans For Dummies. 1st ed. Wiley. https://www.perlego.com/book/2105296/oceans-for-dummies-pdf.

Harvard Citation

Cousteau, A., Cousteau, P. and Kraynak, J. (2021) Oceans For Dummies. 1st edn. Wiley. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/2105296/oceans-for-dummies-pdf (Accessed: 15 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Cousteau, Ashlan, Philippe Cousteau, and Joseph Kraynak. Oceans For Dummies. 1st ed. Wiley, 2021. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.