Which two oceans are adjacent to Alaska’s borders?

Travel Destinations

By Kristy Tolley

Alaska’s Location and Boundaries

Alaska, the largest state in the United States, is located in the northernmost part of North America. It is bordered by Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south and west. Its total area covers 1.7 million square kilometers, which includes a vast coastline that stretches over 34,000 miles.

Understanding Adjacency: What Does It Mean?

In geography, adjacency refers to the proximity of two or more areas or regions. In the case of Alaska, adjacency refers to the state’s bordering to two major bodies of water: the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. These adjacent oceans have a significant impact on Alaska’s climate, geography, and economy. Understanding the significance of Alaska’s adjacency to these oceans is crucial to understanding the state’s unique location and its importance.

The Pacific Ocean: Alaska’s Southern Border

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest ocean on Earth, covering one-third of the planet’s surface. It is located to the south and west of Alaska, with the Aleutian Islands serving as a natural land bridge that connects the state to the Asian continent. The Pacific Ocean’s influence on Alaska’s climate is significant, as it brings warm currents that moderate the state’s winter temperatures. The ocean’s waters also support a thriving fishing industry, with salmon, halibut, and crab being among the most sought-after species.

The Bering Sea: Alaska’s Western Border

The Bering Sea lies to the west of Alaska, separating the state from Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. It is a shallow sea with an average depth of 50 meters, and it supports a vast ecosystem of marine life, including the world’s largest commercial fishery for walleye pollock. The Bering Sea’s adjacency to Alaska is significant, as it has a direct impact on the state’s economy and trade. The sea serves as a vital shipping lane between Asia and North America, and its waters are rich in oil and gas reserves.

The Arctic Ocean: Alaska’s Northern Border

The Arctic Ocean is located to the north of Alaska and is the smallest and shallowest of the world’s five oceans. It is frozen nearly all year round, with the exception of the summer months when the ice melts and creates open water. The Arctic Ocean’s adjacency to Alaska is significant due to its impact on the state’s climate, as it brings cold air masses that contribute to the state’s harsh winters. The ocean’s waters are also home to a diverse range of marine mammals, including walruses and polar bears.

Alaska’s Shape and Its Impact on Adjacency

Alaska’s unique shape plays a crucial role in its adjacency to these oceans. The state’s long and narrow strip of land extends over 2,000 miles from east to west, with its southernmost point being located further west than its westernmost point. This shape means that Alaska has a more extensive coastline than any other state in the United States, giving it abundant access to the adjacent oceans.

Maritime Borders: How They Are Defined

Maritime borders are the boundaries that define a country’s territorial waters. For Alaska, these borders are defined by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). The IHO uses specific criteria to establish these borders, such as the distance from the coast, the depth of the water, and the presence of natural features such as islands. The maritime borders are essential in defining a country’s economic zone, which determines its rights to explore and exploit natural resources in the adjacent waters.

The United States’ Relationship with the Oceans

The United States places significant importance on its relationship with the oceans. It is a signatory to several international agreements, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which establishes a legal framework for the use of ocean resources. The U.S. also has several federal agencies responsible for managing marine affairs, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Alaska-Canada Border and Adjacent Oceans

The border between Alaska and Canada is another crucial factor in the state’s adjacency to the oceans. The border runs along the 141st meridian west, which separates Alaska from the Canadian province of British Columbia. The border’s location means that Alaska shares the Pacific Ocean with Canada, and the two countries share control over the Bering Sea’s fisheries.

The Impact of Alaska’s Location on Economy and Trade

Alaska’s adjacency to the oceans has a significant impact on its economy and trade. The state’s fishing industry is one of its largest sources of revenue, with both the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea being major fishing grounds. The state’s strategic location also makes it a vital hub for international shipping, connecting Asia and North America. Additionally, Alaska is home to significant oil and gas reserves, with much of the offshore drilling taking place in the adjacent waters.

Climate and Geography: The Role of Adjacent Oceans

The adjacent oceans play a crucial role in defining Alaska’s climate and geography. The Pacific Ocean’s warm currents moderate the state’s winter temperatures, making it more habitable. The Bering Sea’s shallow waters support a rich ecosystem of marine life, which has a direct impact on the state’s fishing industry. Meanwhile, the Arctic Ocean’s cold air masses create the state’s harsh winters and support a range of unique marine mammals.

Conclusion: Alaska’s Unique Location and Its Importance

In conclusion, Alaska’s adjacency to the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean makes it a unique and important state. These adjacent oceans have a significant impact on Alaska’s climate, geography, economy, and trade. Understanding the importance of Alaska’s adjacency to these oceans is crucial to appreciating the state’s unique location and its importance to the United States and the world.

Photo of author

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.

Leave a Comment