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The sea, the world ocean, or simply the ocean, is the connected body of salty water that covers

70.8% of the Earth's surface.[1] The sea moderates the Earth's climate and has important roles in
the water cycle, carbon cycle, and nitrogen cycle. Although the sea has been travelled and
explored since prehistory, the modern scientific study of the seaoceanographydates broadly
to the British Challenger expedition of the 1870s.[2] The sea is conventionally divided into four or
five large sections, such as the Pacific, called oceans while smaller sections, such as the
Mediterranean, are known as seas.
Owing to the present state of continental drift, the Northern Hemisphere is now fairly equally
divided between land and sea (a ratio of about 2:3) but the South is overwhelmingly oceanic
(1:4.7).[3] Salinity in the open ocean is generally in a narrow band around 3.5% by mass,
although this can vary in more landlocked waters, near the mouths of large rivers, or at great
depths. About 85% of the solids in the open sea are sodium and chloride. Deep-sea currents are
produced by differences in salinity and temperature. Surface currents are formed by the friction of
waves produced by the wind and by tides, the changes in local sea level produced by the gravity
of the Moon and Sun. The direction of all of these is governed by surface and submarine land
masses and by the rotation of the Earth (the Coriolis effect).
Former changes in the sea levels have left continental shelves, shallow areas in the sea close to
land. These nutrient-rich waters teem with life, which provide humans with substantial supplies of
foodmainly fish, but also shellfish, mammals, and seaweedwhich are both harvested in the
wild and farmed. The most diverse areas surround great tropical coral reefs. Whaling in the deep
sea was once common but whales' dwindling numbers prompted international conservation
efforts and finally a moratorium on most commercial hunting. Oceanography has established that
not all life is restricted to the sunlit surface waters: even under enormous depths and pressures,
nutrients streaming from hydrothermal vents support their own unique ecosystem. Life may have
started there and aquatic microbial mats are generally credited with the oxygenation of Earth's
atmosphere; both plants and animals first evolved in the sea.
The sea is an essential aspect of human trade, travel, mineral extraction, and power generation.
This has also made it essential to warfare and left major cities exposed to earthquakes and
volcanoes from nearby faults; powerful tsunami waves; and hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones
produced in the tropics. This importance and duality has affected human culture, from early sea
gods to the epic poetry of Homer to the changes induced by the Columbian Exchange, from
Viking funerals to Basho's haikus to hyperrealist marine art, and inspiring music ranging from the
shanties in The Complaynt of Scotland to Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Sea and Sinbad's Ship" to Amei's "Listen to the Sea". It is the scene of leisure activities including swimming, diving, surfing,
and sailing. However, population growth, industrialization, and intensive farming have all
contributed to present-day marine pollution. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is being absorbed in
increasing amounts, lowering its pH in a process known as ocean acidification. The shared nature
of the sea has made overfishing an increasing problem.

he sea is the interconnected system of all the Earth's oceanic waters, including the IHO's four
named oceans[4]the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arcticand the waters of the Southern
Ocean, either considered separately or included within the other four.[5] This sense and the
narrower use of a sea to describe specific, smaller bodies of seawater such as the Red Sea both
date to Old English; the larger sense has required a definite article since Early Middle English.[5]
As the term has been applied over time, there are no sharp distinctions between seas and
oceans, although seas are smaller and arewith the notable exception of the Sargasso Sea
created by the North Atlantic Gyre[6](p90)usually bounded by land on a smaller scale than
multiple continents.[7] Seas are generally larger than lakes and contain salt water, but the Sea of
Galilee is a freshwater lake.[8] There is no accepted technical definition of sea among
oceanographers;[a] as a matter of international law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of

the Sea states all the ocean is "the sea"


Variations in salinity are caused by many factors: currents flowing between the seas; incoming
freshwater from rivers and glaciers; precipitation; the formation and melting of sea ice; and
evaporation, which is in turn affected by temperature, winds, and waves. For example, the upper
level of the Baltic Sea has a very low salinity (10 to 15) because the low temperatures of the
surrounding climate produce minimal evaporation; it has many inflowing rivers; and its small
connection to the North Sea tends to create a cold, dense under-layer that hardly mixes with the
surface waters.[31] By contrast, the Red Sea lies between the Sahara and Arabian Deserts; it has
high evaporation but little precipitation; it has few (and mostly seasonal) inflowing rivers; and its
connection to other seasthe Suez Canal in the north and the Bab-el-Mandeb in the southare
both very narrow. Its salinity averages 40.[32] The Mediterranean is a little lower, at 37, while
some landlocked lakes are much higher: The Dead Sea has 300 grams (11 oz) of dissolved solids
per liter (300).
Annual mean sea surface temperature from World Ocean Atlas 2009.
Mean surface temperature (2009), from -2 C (light violet) to 30 C (light pink).
Sea temperature chiefly depends on the amount of solar radiation it absorbs. In the tropics where
sunlight falls more directly, the temperature of the surface layers can rise to over 30 C (86 F);
near the poles, the temperature is in equilibrium with the sea ice at its freezing point. Its salinity
makes this lower than freshwater's, usually about 1.8 C (28.8 F). These temperature
differences contribute to the continuous circulation of water through the sea. Warm surface
currents cool as they move away from the tropics; as the water becomes denser, it sinks. The
cold water in the deep sea moves back towards the equator before welling up again to the
surface. Deep seawater has a temperature between 2 and 5 C (28 and 41 F) in all parts of the
globe.[33] In freezing seas, ice crystals begin to form on the surface. These break into small
pieces
Mean surface oxygen levels (2009), from 0.15 (light violet) to 0.45 (light pink) moles of O per
cubic meter.
The amount of light that penetrates the sea depends on the angle of the sun, the local weather,
and the sea's turbidity. Of the light that reaches the surface of the sea, much of it is reflected at
the surface and its red wavelengths are absorbed in the top few meters. Yellow and green reach
greater depths, and the longer blue and violet wavelengths may penetrate as deep as 1,000 m
(3,300 ft).
The amount of oxygen present in seawater depends primarily upon its temperature and the
photosynthetic organisms living in it, particularly algae, phytoplankton, and plants such as
seagrass. During the day, their photosynthetic activity produces oxygen, which dissolves into the
seawater and is used by marine animals. The water's oxygen saturation is lower during the night
and much lower in the deep sea. Below a depth of about 200 m (660 ft), there is insufficient light
for photosynthesis[35] and consequently little dissolved oxygen. Below this, anaerobic bacteria
break down falling organic material, producing hydrogen sulfide (H S).[36] It is projected that
global warming will reduce oxygen both in surface and deep waters, due to oxygen's decreased
solubility as temperatures increase[37] and increased oceanic stratificatio