National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Introduction to the Oceans

One cannot learn about the weather we experience without considering the ocean and its effect on our weather...and the weather's effect on it. We must consider the ocean because nearly 71% of the earth's surface is covered by it and more than 97% of all our water is contained in it.

The World's major oceans.

We must consider the ocean and its impact as more than one-half of the world's population lives within 60 miles (100 km) of the ocean.

We must consider the ocean as its ability to absorb, store, and release heat into the atmosphere is huge and often directly affects us. In fact, just the top 10 feet of the ocean surface contains more heat than our entire atmosphere.

Major climate events, such as El Niño, result from ocean temperature changes. These temperature changes then have impacts on weather events such as hurricanes, typhoons, floods and droughts which, in turn, affect the prices of fruits, vegetables and grains.

The sizes of the major oceans.
Ocean Surface Area (miles2) Surface Area (kilometers2) Of all oceans
Pacific 64,000,000 166,000,000 45.0%
Atlantic 31,600,000 82,000,000 22.2%
Indian 28,400,000 73,600,000 20.0%
Southern 13,523,000 35,000,000 9.5%
Arctic 4,700,000 12,173,000 3.3%

With all of this water it is essential that we consider "the ocean".