Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world. It comes behind Pacific Ocean with a total area of about 106,400,000 square kilometres which is about 20 percent of the total surface area of the earth. Atlantic Ocean represents about 29 percent of the water surface area of the world. The ocean is situated in an S- shaped elongated basin which lies longitudinally between Eurasia and Africa to the east and Americas to the west. Atlantic Ocean is connected to the Arctic Ocean in the north side, Pacific Ocean in the south west and Indian Ocean in the south east and southern ocean in the far south.
Atlantic Ocean got its name from Atlas of the Greek mythology, making it the ‘Sea of Atlas’. Early Greeks believed Atlantic Ocean as a river that encircles the world. Atlantic Ocean is dived into two by the equator. The region above Equator is called North Atlantic Ocean and the region below equator is referred to as South Atlantic Ocean. The region which lies between South America and the part of Africa above equator is known as central Atlantic Ocean. The waters of this region are very different from the waters of northern Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe.
The western boundary of Atlantic Ocean is marked by North America and South America. To the eastern side, the ocean is bounded by Europe and Africa. In this side it is also connected to the Mediterranean Sea through the strait of Gibraltar. Atlantic Ocean is connected to the Arctic Ocean in the north through the Denmark Strait, Greenland Sea, Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea. To the south east end, the Atlantic Ocean is bordered by Indian Ocean at the 20⁰ East meridians running south from Cape Agulhas to Antarctica. To the South west the ocean is connected to the Pacific Ocean via the Drake Passage. The man made Panama Canal also links the two big oceans.
There are a lot of large water bodies adjacent to Atlantic Ocean. This includes Caribbean Sea, Hudson Bay, The Gulf of Mexico, Arctic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Baltic Sean, North Sea and the Celtic Sea. Atlantic Ocean has a land area that drains into it which is more than four times that of either Pacific Ocean or Indian Ocean. Atlantic Ocean has a volume of 354, 700,000 cubic kilometres, and has an average dept of 3.339 kilometres. The deepest portion of Atlantic Ocean is Milwaukee Deep situated in the Puerto Rico Trench with a depth of 8380 meters. Atlantic Ocean has the lowest width of 2848 kilometres between Brazil and Sierra Leone; and over 6400 kilometres wide at the southern end.
The topography of the floor of Atlantic Ocean is featured with a submarine mountain range known as the Mid Atlantic Ridge. This mountain range extends from Iceland in the northern hemisphere to 58⁰ south latitude in the southern hemisphere. The mid Atlantic ridge has a maximum width of 1590 kilometres and also has a great rift valley that extends along most of the length of the ridge. Several peaks of this mid Atlantic ridge also rise above the sea level to form small islands. There is also another submarine ridge known as Walvis ridge in the South Atlantic Ocean.
The mid Atlantic ridge essentially divides the Atlantic Ocean floor into two large troughs with depths ranging from 3700 meters to 5500 meters. There are also many transverse ridges that run between the two continents. These transverse ridges and the mid Atlantic ridge together divide the Atlantic Ocean floor into several basins. Some of the large basins among them are the Blake, Guiana, North American, Cape Verde and Canaries basins in the north Atlantic; and the Angola, Cape basin, Argentina Basin and the Brazil basin in the South Atlantic Ocean.
The ocean floor is made up of occasional deeps, trenches, abyssal plains, seamounts, basins, canyons, plateaus and some guyots. Puerto Rico trench in the North Atlantic Ocean is the deepest trench with a depth of 8605 meters.
Bordering countries and territories
|Europe|| Azores (PRT)|
Faroe Islands (DEN)
Isle of Man (UK)
Bouvet Island (NOR)
Canary Islands (ESP)
|Democratic Republic of the Congo|
Republic of the Congo
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (UK)
São Tomé and Príncipe
| South Africa
Western Sahara (claimed by Morocco) (MAR)
Falkland Islands (UK)
French Guiana (FRA)
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (UK)
Antigua and Barbuda
British Virgin Islands (UK)
|Cayman Islands (UK)|
Puerto Rico (USA)
Saint Barthélemy (FRA)
|Saint Kitts and Nevis|
Sint Maarten (NED)
Saint Martin (FRA)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sint Eustatius (NED)
| Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)
United States Virgin Islands (USA)
|North and Central America||Belize|
Saint Pierre and Miquelon (FRA)
Ocean Water Characteristics
Atlantic Ocean has one of the most saline waters among all the oceans in the world. The salinity in the open ocean varies from 33 to 37 parts per thousand by mass and varies with latitude and season.sea surface salinity is affected by many things such as evaporation, precipitation, and river inflow and sea ice melting. The salinity levels are lower in the high latitudes and along the coasts where large rivers enter. But it is found lowest in regions just north of equator because of the heavy tropical rainfall in that region. The subtropical regions lying about 25⁰ north and south of equator have high salinity levels because of high evaporation and low rainfall.
Surface water temperature of Atlantic Ocean varies from -2⁰C to 30⁰C, with maximum temperatures found in the equatorial regions, and minimum at the Polar Regions. The temperatures vary with latitude, current systems and seasonal changes. The flow of water in the ocean is affected by the Coriolis Effect. It makes the north Atlantic waters to flow in a clockwise direction and South Atlantic Ocean waters to flow in an anti clockwise direction. The ocean water is made up of four large water masses. The surface water is made up of north and south Atlantic central waters. The water that extends up to 1000 meters is made up of sub Antarctic intermediate waters. The waters up to the depth of 4000 meters are made by north Atlantic deep water. The waters deep beyond 4000 meters is made by the Antarctic bottom waters.
Climate of the regions across the ocean is influenced by the temperatures of the surface waters, the water currents as well as the winds. The climates in Atlantic Ocean are more moderate and have less seasonal variations because of the great capacity of oceans to store and release heat. The climatic zones also vary with latitudes, with warmest zones lying across the north of equator. The ocean currents influence the climate by transporting the warm and cold waters from one region to other.
The Gulf Stream and the north Atlantic drift warm the atmosphere of the britsh isles, and North West Europe, and regions as far as northern Mediterranean. The heavy fog in the eastern Canada and north western coast of Africa is caused by the cold water currents in the Atlantic Ocean. Southern parts of the North Atlantic Ocean also experience phenomenon such as hurricanes.
Terrain and Natural Resources
The Atlantic Ocean has many petroleum and gas fields. It is also home to many species of fish and marine mammals including seals and whales. There are also many sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits and precious stones in this ocean. The ocean has irregular coasts with many bays, gulfs and seas. This includes the Norwegian Sea, Baltic Sea, North Sea, Black Sea, Bay of Fundy, Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Carrebbean Sea.
There are also many islands including Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, Great Britain, Ireland, Canary Islands, Caribbean islands, and many other small islands. The ocean contributes a lot for the development and economy of the surrounding countries. The ocean is a major route for transportation and communication. The ocean also has abundant petroleum deposits. The world’s richest fishing resources are in the ocean, with major fishes such as cod, hake, herring, mackerel and haddock. Eels, lobsters and whales also appear in large numbers at various regions in Atlantic Ocean.