Thursday, January 30, 2014

70.8% - One Big Ocean!

70.8% is the percentage of ocean covering the earth's surface relative to landmass. So it makes sense that some of us think about going to sea to see the world. It's an expeditious way to do so.  You can get from here to there with all your favorite things and without having to pack and repack all the time. Cruising by boat really is a great way to see the world. And at an average of 6 knots, you actually get to see literally everything and experience the journey without getting jet lagged.

Crossing the North Atlantic



Getting wet seems natural. There's all this water all around.  We were even born in it. Lately it seems a bit unnatural when the water is falling out of the sky as it has been for an interminable amount of time these past few weeks.  It makes me wonder where all this water is going.  Is it filling in the remaining spaces so the ratio of sea to land is increasing?  Hmmmm.  Can we measure the change as proof of climate change?

"Seventy percent of the earth is water in all its forms, from the heat vents deep in the Mariana Trench, to the last of the snows on Kilimanjaro. From the killer droughts in Africa to the rising seas taking out villages in Alaska and the Pacific south sea islands." - Bernie Krause  (If you don't know who Bernie Krause is look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Krause)  Seems like you should be able to measure it now via sattelite images, and again next year to detect change if islands are sinking?


Fact: Water covers 70.8%, or about 365×106 km2, of the earth's surface. 
Q: Approximate the total surface area of the earth. (Round your answer to the nearest million.)
Now calculate the land mass.  That's what's holding 7.2 billion of us (at today's count http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/). 

So, are there seven seas and five oceans or is there just one ocean? If you can sail all the way 'round without stopping, I'd argue it's just one ocean not five contiguous oceans.  Water doesn't just stop where you draw the line. It mixes. There are five Gyres but only one big stretch of salty stuff. I wonder if whales plan to migrate to the South Atlantic and they know it's different from the North Atlantic?

It was clearer back in the Jurassic period, when the hypothetical supercontinent Pangaea included all the landmasses of the earth. When continental drift began, Pangaea broke up into Laurasia and Gondwanaland. As the land masses drifted apart, water seeped into the gaps in between creating new stretches of ocean.  It's been pretty much in its current state for the past 10 million years.

Image from UB The News http://www.ubthenews.com/topics/pangaea.htm


Where's the road?
I have to say that being out on that ocean in a 57 foot boat felt like we were on a REALLY big ocean in a REALLY small boat and VERY alone. And looking out at the water coming up over the road on the high spring tides several times a year (like today with an astronomical tide compounded by storm surge - 5 meter tide and 130 km/hr winds forecast) now makes me a believer in global warming. I'm just happy to be one of the creatures that likes being on, in, or near the ocean.  I couldn't live without it. 

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