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Atlantic Ocean Geography

    Location: body of water between Africa, Europe, Antarctica, and the Western Hemisphere

    Geographic coordinates: 0 00 N, 25 00 W

    Map references: World

    Area:
    total: 82.217 million sq km
    note: includes Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caribbean Sea, Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, Drake Passage, Gulf of Mexico, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea, Scotia Sea, Weddell Sea, and other tributary water bodies

    Area—comparative: slightly less than nine times the size of the US; second-largest of the world's four oceans (after the Pacific Ocean, but larger than Indian Ocean or Arctic Ocean)

    Coastline: 111,866 km

    Climate: tropical cyclones (hurricanes) develop off the coast of Africa near Cape Verde and move westward into the Caribbean Sea; hurricanes can occur from May to December, but are most frequent from August to November

    Terrain: surface usually covered with sea ice in Labrador Sea, Denmark Strait, and Baltic Sea from October to June; clockwise warm-water gyre (broad, circular system of currents) in the northern Atlantic, counterclockwise warm-water gyre in the southern Atlantic; the ocean floor is dominated by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a rugged north-south centerline for the entire Atlantic basin

    Elevation extremes:
    lowest point: Puerto Rico Trench -8,605 m
    highest point: in the Milwaukee Deep at sea level 0 m

    Natural resources: oil and gas fields, fish, marine mammals (seals and whales), sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, polymetallic nodules, precious stones

    Natural hazards: icebergs common in Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, and the northwestern Atlantic Ocean from February to August and have been spotted as far south as Bermuda and the Madeira Islands; icebergs from Antarctica occur in the extreme southern Atlantic Ocean; ships subject to superstructure icing in extreme northern Atlantic from October to May and extreme southern Atlantic from May to October; persistent fog can be a maritime hazard from May to September

    Environment—current issues: endangered marine species include the manatee, seals, sea lions, turtles, and whales; drift net fishing is hastening the decline of fish stocks and contributing to international disputes; municipal sludge pollution off eastern US, southern Brazil, and eastern Argentina; oil pollution in Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Lake Maracaibo, Mediterranean Sea, and North Sea; industrial waste and municipal sewage pollution in Baltic Sea, North Sea, and Mediterranean Sea

    Environment—international agreements:
    party to: none of the selected agreements
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

    Geography—note: major chokepoints include the Dardanelles, Strait of Gibraltar, access to the Panama and Suez Canals; strategic straits include the Strait of Dover, Straits of Florida, Mona Passage, The Sound (Oresund), and Windward Passage; the Equator divides the Atlantic Ocean into the North Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)