Oceans :: PACIFIC OCEAN
Introduction :: PACIFIC OCEAN
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the world's five oceans (followed by the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean, and Arctic Ocean). Strategically important access waterways include the La Perouse, Tsugaru, Tsushima, Taiwan, Singapore, and Torres Straits. The decision by the International Hydrographic Organization in the spring of 2000 to delimit a fifth ocean, the Southern Ocean, removed the portion of the Pacific Ocean south of 60 degrees south.
Geography :: PACIFIC OCEAN
body of water between the Southern Ocean, Asia, Australia, and the Western Hemisphere0 00 N, 160 00 WPolitical Map of the Worldtotal: 155.557 million sq kmnote: includes Bali Sea, Bering Sea, Bering Strait, Coral Sea, East China Sea, Gulf of Alaska, Gulf of Tonkin, Philippine Sea, Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, South China Sea, Tasman Sea, and other tributary water bodiesabout 15 times the size of the US; covers about 28% of the global surface; almost equal to the total land area of the world135,663 kmplanetary air pressure systems and resultant wind patterns exhibit remarkable uniformity in the south and east; trade winds and westerly winds are well-developed patterns, modified by seasonal fluctuations; tropical cyclones (hurricanes) may form south of Mexico from June to October and affect Mexico and Central America; continental influences cause climatic uniformity to be much less pronounced in the eastern and western regions at the same latitude in the North Pacific Ocean; the western Pacific is monsoonal - a rainy season occurs during the summer months, when moisture-laden winds blow from the ocean over the land, and a dry season during the winter months, when dry winds blow from the Asian landmass back to the ocean; tropical cyclones (typhoons) may strike southeast and east Asia from May to Decembersurface dominated by two large gyres (broad, circular systems of currents), one in the northern Pacific and another in the southern Pacific; in the northern Pacific, sea ice forms in the Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk in winter; in the southern Pacific, sea ice from Antarctica reaches its northernmost extent in October; the ocean floor in the eastern Pacific is dominated by the East Pacific Rise, while the western Pacific is dissected by deep trenches, including the Mariana Trench, which is the world's deepest at 10,924 mmajor surface currents: clockwise North Pacific Gyre formed by the warm Kuroshio Current in the west, the North Pacific Current in the north, the cold California Current in the east, and the North Equatorial Current in the south; the counterclockwise South Pacific Gyre composed of the warm East Australian Current in the west, the South Pacific Current in the south, the cold Peru (Humbolt) Current in the east, and the South Equatorial Current in the northmean depth: -3,970 melevation extremes: lowest point: Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench -10,924 mhighest point: sea level 0 moil and gas fields, polymetallic nodules, sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, fishsurrounded by a zone of violent volcanic and earthquake activity sometimes referred to as the "Pacific Ring of Fire"; subject to tropical cyclones (typhoons) in southeast and east Asia from May to December (most frequent from July to October); tropical cyclones (hurricanes) may form south of Mexico and strike Central America and Mexico from June to October (most common in August and September); cyclical El Nino/La Nina phenomenon occurs in the equatorial Pacific, influencing weather in the Western Hemisphere and the western Pacific; ships subject to superstructure icing in extreme north from October to May; persistent fog in the northern Pacific can be a maritime hazard from June to Decemberendangered marine species include the dugong, sea lion, sea otter, seals, turtles, and whales; oil pollution in Philippine Sea and South China Seathe major chokepoints are the Bering Strait, Panama Canal, Luzon Strait, and the Singapore Strait; the Equator divides the Pacific Ocean into the North Pacific Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean; dotted with low coral islands and rugged volcanic islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean
Government :: PACIFIC OCEAN
etymology: named by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand MAGELLAN during the Spanish circumnavigation of the world in 1521; encountering favorable winds upon reaching the ocean, he called it "Mar Pacifico," which means "peaceful sea" in both Portuguese and Spanish
Economy :: PACIFIC OCEAN
The Pacific Ocean is a major contributor to the world economy and particularly to those nations its waters directly touch. It provides low-cost sea transportation between East and West, extensive fishing grounds, offshore oil and gas fields, minerals, and sand and gravel for the construction industry. In 1996, over 60% of the world's fish catch came from the Pacific Ocean. Exploitation of offshore oil and gas reserves is playing an ever-increasing role in the energy supplies of the US, Australia, NZ, China, and Peru. The high cost of recovering offshore oil and gas, combined with the wide swings in world prices for oil since 1985, has led to fluctuations in new drillings.
Transportation :: PACIFIC OCEAN
major seaport(s): Bangkok (Thailand), Hong Kong (China), Kao-hsiung (Taiwan), Los Angeles (US), Manila (Philippines), Pusan (South Korea), San Francisco (US), Seattle (US), Shanghai (China), Singapore, Sydney (Australia), Vladivostok (Russia), Wellington (NZ), Yokohama (Japan)
Military and Security :: PACIFIC OCEAN
the Inside Passage offers protected waters from southeast Alaska to Puget Sound (Washington state); although the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial waters of littoral states and offshore waters in the South China Sea as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships reports of attacks have generally declined from 2015 to 2016; an emerging threat area lies in the Celebes and Sulu Seas between the Philippines and Malaysia where 12 crew were kidnapped in three incidents during the last quarter of 2016; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargoes stolen; crew and passengers are often held for ransom, murdered, or cast adrift
Transnational Issues :: PACIFIC OCEAN
some maritime disputes (see littoral states)