What is the percentage of the Earth’s surface covered by Saltwater oceans?

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By Kristy Tolley

The vastness of the Earth’s oceans

The Earth’s oceans are one of the most significant features of our planet. They are home to a diverse range of aquatic species and play a crucial role in regulating the planet’s climate and weather patterns. The oceans also serve as a vital source of food, transportation, and recreation for millions of people worldwide.

But just how vast are the Earth’s oceans, and what percentage of the planet’s surface do they cover? In this article, we will explore the size and scope of the world’s oceans and examine the percentage of the Earth’s surface covered by saltwater.

The world’s five oceans and their size

There are five oceans on Earth: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Southern, and Arctic oceans. The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest, covering an area of approximately 63.8 million square miles (165.25 million square kilometers). The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest, with an area of approximately 41.1 million square miles (106.4 million square kilometers), while the Indian Ocean covers an area of approximately 28.4 million square miles (73.5 million square kilometers). The Southern Ocean covers an area of approximately 7.8 million square miles (20.3 million square kilometers), while the Arctic Ocean covers an area of approximately 5.4 million square miles (14.1 million square kilometers).

In total, the world’s oceans cover approximately 70.8% of the Earth’s surface. This vast expanse of water plays a critical role in regulating the planet’s climate, storing and redistributing heat, and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The oceans also support a diverse range of marine life, with over 230,000 known species, including fish, mammals, and invertebrates. Furthermore, the oceans serve as a source of food, energy, and raw materials for many people worldwide.

The percentage of the Earth’s surface covered by saltwater

Of the world’s oceans, approximately 97% is made up of saltwater, while the remaining 3% is freshwater. This means that the percentage of the Earth’s surface covered by saltwater is approximately 70.4%. The oceans’ saltwater is essential for maintaining the balance of the Earth’s water cycle, and it plays a crucial role in regulating the planet’s climate and weather patterns.

How is the percentage of saltwater calculated?

The percentage of saltwater on Earth is calculated by dividing the total area of the saltwater oceans by the total surface area of the Earth. This calculation takes into account the Earth’s landmass, as well as any other bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers. The resulting figure provides an accurate estimate of the percentage of the Earth’s surface covered by saltwater.

Land versus water: A comparison of surface area

While the world’s oceans cover a significant portion of the Earth’s surface, they are still outnumbered by the planet’s landmass. The Earth has a total land area of approximately 57.5 million square miles (148.9 million square kilometers), which is roughly 29.2% of the Earth’s total surface area. This means that the Earth’s oceans are over twice the size of its landmass.

How does the Earth’s water distribution affect life?

The distribution of water on Earth plays a critical role in supporting life on the planet. The oceans are home to a diverse range of marine life, including phytoplankton, algae, fish, and mammals. These species are essential for maintaining the balance of the Earth’s ecosystems and for providing food and resources for humans. The freshwater on Earth is also vital for supporting terrestrial life, with rivers, lakes, and wetlands providing habitats for many species.

The importance of the oceans in Earth’s system

The oceans play a crucial role in regulating the Earth’s climate and weather patterns. The oceans store and redistribute heat, and they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. The oceans also influence the planet’s weather patterns, with ocean currents and cycles shaping regional climates. Furthermore, the oceans are a source of energy, providing opportunities for renewable energy generation through wind, wave, and tidal power.

A closer look at the oceans’ impact on climate

The oceans’ impact on climate is significant, with ocean currents and cycles shaping regional climates worldwide. The Gulf Stream, for example, is a warm ocean current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and flows northward along the East Coast of the United States. This current helps to keep the climate of Western Europe relatively mild, despite the region’s high latitude. The oceans also play a vital role in regulating the Earth’s carbon cycle, with the oceans absorbing approximately 25% of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities.

The impact of humans on the Earth’s oceans

Human activities have had a significant impact on the Earth’s oceans, with pollution, overfishing, and climate change posing major threats to marine ecosystems. Plastic pollution, in particular, is a growing concern, with an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic entering the oceans each year. Overfishing is another major issue, with many fish populations declining due to unsustainable harvesting practices. Climate change is also having a significant impact on the oceans, with rising sea levels and warming waters threatening marine ecosystems worldwide.

Conclusion: The significance of the Earth’s saltwater oceans

The Earth’s saltwater oceans are a vital aspect of the planet’s ecosystems, supporting a diverse range of marine life and playing a crucial role in regulating the Earth’s climate and weather patterns. While the oceans cover a significant portion of the Earth’s surface, they are still outnumbered by the planet’s landmass. Human activities are having a significant impact on the Earth’s oceans, posing major threats to marine ecosystems worldwide. It is essential that we take action to protect the oceans, both for their own sake and for the sake of all life on Earth.

References: Sources for further reading

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "How much of the Earth is covered in water?" https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/how-much-water.html
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "Ocean."
  • United Nations. "Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development." https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/oceans/
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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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