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    Pacific Ocean Geography 1997

      Location body of water between Antarctica, Asia, Australia, and the Western Hemisphere

      Geographic coordinates 0 00 N, 160 00 W

      Map references World

      total: 165.384 million sq km
      note: includes Bali Sea, Bellingshausen Sea, Bering Sea, Bering Strait, CoralSea, East China Sea, Flores Sea, Gulf of Alaska, Gulf of Tonkin, Java Sea, Philippine Sea, Ross Sea, Savu Sea, Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, South ChinaSea, Tasman Sea, Timor Sea, and other tributary water bodies

      Area - comparative about 18 times the size of the US; the largest ocean (followed by theAtlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Arctic Ocean); covers about one-thirdof the global surface; larger than the total land area of the world

      Coastline 135,663 km

      Climate planetary air pressure systems and resultant wind patterns exhibit remarkableuniformity in the south and east; trade winds and westerly winds are well-developedpatterns, modified by seasonal fluctuations; tropical cyclones (hurricanes)may form south of Mexico from June to October and affect Mexico and CentralAmerica; continental influences cause climatic uniformity to be much lesspronounced in the eastern and western regions at the same latitude in theNorth Pacific Ocean; the western Pacific is monsoonal - a rainy season occursduring the summer months, when moisture-laden winds blow from the ocean overthe land, and a dry season during the winter months, when dry winds blow fromthe Asian land mass back to the ocean; tropical cyclones (typhoons) may strikesoutheast and East Asia from May to December

      Terrain surface currents in the northern Pacific are dominated by a clockwise,warm-water gyre (broad circular system of currents) and in the southern Pacificby a counterclockwise, cool-water gyre; in the northern Pacific, sea ice formsin the Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk in winter; in the southern Pacific, seaice from Antarctica reaches its northernmost extent in October; the oceanfloor in the eastern Pacific is dominated by the East Pacific Rise, whilethe western Pacific is dissected by deep trenches, including the MarianasTrench, which is the world's deepest

      Elevation extremes
      lowest point: Marianas Trench -10,924 m
      highest point: sea level 0 m

      Natural resources oil and gas fields, polymetallic nodules, sand and gravel aggregates,placer deposits, fish

      Natural hazards surrounded by a zone of violent volcanic and earthquake activity sometimesreferred to as the "Pacific Ring of Fire"; subject to tropical cyclones (typhoons)in southeast and east Asia from May to December (most frequent from July toOctober); tropical cyclones (hurricanes) may form south of Mexico and strikeCentral America and Mexico from June to October (most common in August andSeptember); southern shipping lanes subject to icebergs from Antarctica; occasionalEl Nino phenomenon occurs off the coast of Peru, when the trade winds slackenand the warm Equatorial Countercurrent moves south, killing the plankton thatis the primary food source for anchovies; consequently, the anchovies moveto better feeding grounds, causing resident marine birds to starve by thethousands because of the loss of their food source; ships subject to superstructureicing in extreme north from October to May and in extreme south from May toOctober; persistent fog in the northern Pacific can be a maritime hazard fromJune to December

      Environment - current issues endangered marine species include the dugong, sea lion, sea otter, seals,turtles, and whales; oil pollution in Philippine Sea and South China Sea

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

      Geography - note the major choke points are the Bering Strait, Panama Canal, Luzon Strait,and the Singapore Strait; the Equator divides the Pacific Ocean into the NorthPacific Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean; dotted with low coral islands andrugged volcanic islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean

      NOTE: The information regarding Pacific Ocean on this page is re-published from the 1997 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Pacific Ocean Geography 1997 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Pacific Ocean Geography 1997 should be addressed to the CIA.

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    Revised 06-Mar-02
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