Overview Sunset over the Pacific Ocean

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Overview Sunset over the Pacific Ocean

Post by meodingu on Tue Oct 05, 2010 2:05 pm

Overview
Sunset over the Pacific Ocean as seen from the International Space Station. Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible.

The Pacific Ocean encompasses approximately one-third of the Earth's surface, having an area of 179.7 million square kilometres (69.4 million sq mi and 161 million cubic mi) —significantly larger than Earth's entire landmass, with room for another Africa to spare. As a comparison, it is almost 400 times the size of adjacent California.

Extending approximately 15,500 kilometres (9,600 mi) from the Bering Sea in the Arctic to the northern extent of the circumpolar Southern Ocean at 60° S (older definitions extend it to Antarctica's Ross Sea), the Pacific reaches its greatest east-west width at about 5°N latitude, where it stretches approximately 19,800 kilometres (12,300 mi) from Indonesia to the coast of Colombia and Peru – halfway across the world, and more than five times the diameter of the Moon. The lowest known point on earth—the Mariana Trench—lies 10,911 metres (35,797 ft) below sea level. Its average depth is 4028~4188metres (14,000 ft).[5]

The Pacific contains about 25,000 islands (more than the total number in the rest of the world's oceans combined), the majority of which are found south of the equator. Including partially submerged islands, the figure is substantially higher.

The Pacific Ocean is currently shrinking due to plate tectonics, while the Atlantic Ocean is increasing in size, by roughly an inch per year (2–3 cm/yr) on 3 sides, roughly averaging 0.2 square miles (0.5 km2) a year.
Storm in Pacifica, California

Along the Pacific Ocean's irregular western margins lie many seas, the largest of which are the Celebes Sea, Coral Sea, East China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sea of Japan, South China Sea, Sulu Sea, Tasman Sea, and Yellow Sea. The Strait of Malacca joins the Pacific and the Indian Oceans on the west, and Drake Passage and the Straits of Magellan link the Pacific with the Atlantic Ocean on the east. To the north, the Bering Strait connects the Pacific with the Arctic Ocean.

As the Pacific straddles the 180th meridian, the West Pacific (or western Pacific, near Asia) is in the Eastern Hemisphere, while the East Pacific (or eastern Pacific, near the Americas) is in the Western Hemisphere.

For most of Magellan's voyage from the Strait of Magellan to the Philippines, the explorer indeed found the ocean peaceful. However, the Pacific is not always peaceful. Many tropical storms batter the islands of the Pacific. The lands around the Pacific Rim are full of volcanoes and often affected by earthquakes. Tsunamis, caused by underwater earthquakes, have devastated many islands and destroyed entire towns.






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