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    How much of the ocean has been explored? : Ocean Exploration Facts: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

    How much of the ocean has been explored?

    How much of the ocean has been explored? The ocean is vast, yet only a small fraction has been explored.

    Sometimes menacing, sometimes serene, there’s still so much to be learned about our ocean and what lies beneath its surface. Image courtesy of Art Howard, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2019 Southeastern U.S. Deep-sea Exploration. Download image (jpg, 9.9 MB).

    The ocean covers approximately 70% of Earth’s surface. It’s the largest livable space on our planet, and there’s more life there than anywhere else on Earth.

    Consider the size of the ocean. Its surface area is about 360 million square kilometers (139 million square miles), and its average depth is 3,682 meters (12,080 feet). Throughout these depths, there is life.

    Despite its importance, the majority of our ocean is largely unknown. However, through exploration, we’re learning more about its biological, chemical, physical, geological, and archaeological aspects. Exploration leads to discovery, but before we can truly explore, we must map.

    Seafloor mapping provides a sense of what may lie beneath and guides decisions about where to explore (e.g., deploy submersibles, like remotely operated vehicles). While the entire seafloor has been mapped using data collected from satellites, these data provide only a general picture of what’s there. Detail is limited on these maps, so some important geographical features (like seamounts) and objects (like shipwrecks) remain unseen.

    By 2021, only about 20% of the global seafloor had been mapped with modern high-resolution technology (multibeam sonar systems), usually mounted to ships, that can reveal the seafloor in greater detail. While almost 50% of the seafloor beneath U.S. waters had been mapped to these modern standards, the nation’s seafloor is larger than the land area of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five territories combined. Thus, there’s still a significant amount of seafloor left to be mapped at high resolution.

    More is known about the seafloor than the species that call the ocean home. Seafloor maps can provide information about potential habitats, but they can’t identify species on the seafloor or in the water column or provide information about how these animals interact with each other and their environments. Scientists estimate there may be between 700,000 and 1 million species in the ocean (excluding most microorganisms, of which there are millions). Roughly two-thirds of these species, possibly more, have yet to be discovered or officially described, with almost 2,000 new species accepted by the scientific community each year.

    While we are able to measure how much of the global seafloor has been mapped and count the species discovered and described, it’s more difficult to measure how much of the ocean — including the seafloor and the water column — has actually been explored.

    We have a great deal more to learn about our ocean and what resides within it, but progress IS being made. We learn more and more each year. We continue to discover new features and creatures, clues to our past, and resources that can improve our future. But the ocean will never be fully explored. Earth is constantly changing, and it’s important to understand these changes given the importance of the ocean in our everyday lives.

    While there’s a lot of work to be done, there’s also so much more to discover!

    Source : oceanexplorer.noaa.gov

    How much of the ocean have we explored?

    To date, we have explored less than five percent of the ocean

    How much of the ocean have we explored?

    How much of the ocean have we explored? More than eighty percent of our ocean is unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored.

    Much remains to be learned from exploring the mysteries of the deep. From mapping and describing the physical, biological, geological, chemical, and archaeological aspects of the ocean to understanding ocean dynamics, developing new technologies, and unlocking other secrets of the ocean, NOAA is working to increase our understanding of the ocean realm.

    The ocean is the lifeblood of Earth, covering more than 70 percent of the planet's surface, driving weather, regulating temperature, and ultimately supporting all living organisms. Throughout history, the ocean has been a vital source of sustenance, transport, commerce, growth, and inspiration.

    Yet for all of our reliance on the ocean, more than eighty percent of this vast, underwater realm remains unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored.

    Given the high degree of difficulty and cost in exploring our ocean using underwater vehicles, researchers have long relied on technologies such as sonar to generate maps of the seafloor. Currently, less than ten percent of the global ocean is mapped using modern sonar technology. For the ocean and coastal waters of the United States, only about 35 percent has been mapped with modern methods.

    NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research is leading efforts to explore the ocean by supporting expeditions to investigate and document its unknown and little known regions. These expeditions are led by scientist-explorers equipped with the latest exploration tools.

    Meanwhile, NOAA's Office of Coast Survey explores the ocean in a different way, employing hydrographic surveys to generate nautical charts. Since the mid-1830s, the U.S. Coast Survey (a NOAA predecessor agency) has been the nation’s nautical chartmaker. Today, Coast Survey is still responsible for creating and maintaining all charts of U.S. coastal waters, the Great Lakes, and waters surrounding U.S. territories.

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    Sonar, short for Sound Navigation and Ranging, is helpful for exploring and mapping the ocean because sound waves travel farther in the water than do radar and light waves. NOAA scientists primarily use sonar to develop nautical charts, locate underwater hazards to navigation, search for and map objects on the seafloor such as shipwrecks, and map the seafloor itself. There are two types of sonar—active and passive.

    Last updated: 02/26/21Author: NOAA

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    Source : oceanservice.noaa.gov

    Ocean

    The ocean is a huge body of saltwater that covers about 71 percent of Earth’s surface. The planet has one global ocean, though oceanographers and the countries of the world have traditionally divided it into four distinct regions: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic oceans. Beginning in the 20th century, some oceanographers labeled the seas around Antarctica the Southern Ocean, and in 2021 National Geographic officially recognized this fifth ocean.

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    Ocean

    The ocean is a huge body of saltwater that covers about 71 percent of Earth’s surface. The planet has one global ocean, though oceanographers and the countries of the world have traditionally divided it into four distinct regions: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic oceans. Beginning in the 20th century, some oceanographers labeled the seas around Antarctica the Southern Ocean, and in 2021 National Geographic officially recognized this fifth ocean.

    GRADES 5 - 8 SUBJECTS

    Biology, Conservation, Earth Science, Ecology, Oceanography

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    The ocean is a huge body of saltwater that covers about 71 percent of Earth’s surface. The planet has one global ocean, though oceanographers and the countries of the world have traditionally divided it into four distinct regions: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic oceans. Beginning in the 20th century, some oceanographers labeled the seas around Antarctica the Southern Ocean, and in 2021 National Geographic officially recognized this fifth ocean.

    An estimated 97 percent of the world’s water is found in the ocean. Because of this, the ocean has considerable impact on weather, temperature, and the food supply of humans and other organisms. Despite its size and impact on the lives of every organism on Earth, the ocean remains a mystery. More than 80 percent of the ocean has never been mapped, explored, or even seen by humans. A far greater percentage of the surfaces of the moon and the planet Mars has been mapped and studied than of our own ocean floor.

    Although there is much more to learn, oceanographers have already made some amazing discoveries. For example, we know that the ocean contains towering mountain ranges and deep canyons, known as trenches, just like those on land. The peak of the world’s tallest mountain—Mount Everest in the Himalaya, measuring 8.84 kilometers (5.49 miles) high—would not even break the surface of the water if it was placed in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench or Philippine Trench, two of the deepest parts of the ocean.

    On the other hand, the Atlantic Ocean is relatively shallow because large parts of its seafloor are made up of continental shelves—parts of the continents that extend far out into the ocean. The average depth of the entire ocean is 3,720 meters (12,200 feet).

    It is unknown how many different species call the ocean their home. With many marine ecosystems suffering from rising sea temperatures, pollution, and other problems, some oceanographers believe the number of species is dropping. Still, there may be many positive surprises awaiting oceanographers in the years ahead. It could be that more than 90 percent of the ocean’s species are still undiscovered, with some scientists estimating that there are anywhere between a few hundred thousand and a few million more to be discovered. Currently, scientists know of around 226,000 ocean species.

    Learning more about the seafloor and the rest of the ocean is the passion of National Geographic Explorer Marcello Calisti. He is a biorobotics expert who is developing an undersea exploration vehicle that uses “legged locomotion,” inspired by the way an octopus moves under water. His long-range goal is to design robots that can explore the depths that are difficult for humans to reach.

    Since the ocean is so vast, there is plenty for future oceanographers from all corners of the globe to explore and discover.

    biorobotics Noun

    field of robotics that specializes in creating robots that operate like living organisms

    continental shelf Noun

    part of a continent that extends underwater to the deep-ocean floor.

    exploration Noun

    study and investigation of unknown places, concepts, or issues.

    marine ecosystem Noun

    community of living and nonliving things in the ocean.

    ocean Noun

    large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.

    oceanographer Noun

    person who studies the ocean.

    organism Noun

    living or once-living thing.

    seafloor Noun

    surface layer of the bottom of the ocean.

    species Noun

    group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.

    trench Noun

    long, deep depression, either natural or man-made.

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    Source : education.nationalgeographic.org

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