The Southern Ocean
The Southern Ocean surrounds Antarctica, linking the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian Oceans. So, it is central to the global ocean circulation.
The Southern Ocean, which covers an area of 20,327,000 km2, includes typical depths of 4-5,000 m. The Southern Ocean is dominated by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which is a cold, easterly current flowing 21,000 km around the world. The ocean current is the most powerful in the world – carrying a water volume of 130 million m3 per second, i.e. 130 times the water flow of all rivers of the world, and it is about four times as powerful as the Gulf Stream. The circumpolar current is fuelled by the powerful zone of prevailing westerlies, which also encircles the world. It is a belt of stormy low pressures like the one that we know from the North Atlantic – only much more violent, providing the region with names such as the “Roaring Forties”, the “Furious Fifties”, and the “Shrieking Sixties”.
Near the coast, huge ice volumes are produced in the winter. When the ocean water freezes, salt is shed, making the water under the ice salty and heavy.