Atlantic Ocean

Atlantic Ocean

Overview
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

ic divisions. With a total area
Area
Area is a quantity that expresses the extent of a two-dimensional surface or shape in the plane. Area can be understood as the amount of material with a given thickness that would be necessary to fashion a model of the shape, or the amount of paint necessary to cover the surface with a single coat...

 of about 106400000 square kilometres (41,081,269.7 sq mi), it covers approximately 20% of the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

's surface and about 26% of its water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 surface area. The first part of its name refers to Atlas
Atlas (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Atlas was the primordial Titan who supported the heavens. Although associated with various places, he became commonly identified with the Atlas Mountains in north-west Africa...

 of Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, making the Atlantic the "Sea of Atlas".

The oldest known mention of "Atlantic" is in The Histories
Histories (Herodotus)
The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the seminal works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that...

 of Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 around 450 BC (Hdt.
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Timeline

1492   Christopher Columbus sails from La Gomera in the Canary Islands, his final port of call before crossing the Atlantic for the first time.

1520   The Strait of Magellan, the passage immediately south of mainland South America, connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, is first navigated by Ferdinand Magellan during his global circumnavigation voyage.

1520   After navigating through the South American strait, three ships under the command of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan reach the Pacific Ocean, becoming the first Europeans to sail from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.

1815   Napoleon I of France begins his exile on Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean.

1819   The {{SS|Savannah}} leaves port at Savannah, Georgia, United States, on a voyage to become the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The ship arrived at Liverpool, England on June 20.

1854   The steamship ''SS Arctic'' sinks with 300 people on board. This marks the first great disaster in the Atlantic Ocean.

1855   The first locomotive runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean on the Panama Railway.

1912   The British passenger liner, the {{RMS|Titanic}}, sinks in the North Atlantic at 2:20 a.m., two and a half hours after hitting an iceberg. 1,517 people are killed.

1919   The British dirigible R34 lands in New York, completing the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by an airship.

1919   The British airship R34 lands in Norfolk, England, completing the first airship return journey across the Atlantic in 182 hours of flight.

 
Encyclopedia
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

ic divisions. With a total area
Area
Area is a quantity that expresses the extent of a two-dimensional surface or shape in the plane. Area can be understood as the amount of material with a given thickness that would be necessary to fashion a model of the shape, or the amount of paint necessary to cover the surface with a single coat...

 of about 106400000 square kilometres (41,081,269.7 sq mi), it covers approximately 20% of the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

's surface and about 26% of its water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 surface area. The first part of its name refers to Atlas
Atlas (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Atlas was the primordial Titan who supported the heavens. Although associated with various places, he became commonly identified with the Atlas Mountains in north-west Africa...

 of Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, making the Atlantic the "Sea of Atlas".

The oldest known mention of "Atlantic" is in The Histories
Histories (Herodotus)
The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the seminal works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that...

 of Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 around 450 BC (Hdt. 1.202.4): Atlantis thalassa (Greek: Ἀτλαντὶς θάλασσα; English: Sea of Atlas); see also: Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

. The term Ethiopic Ocean, derived from Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, was applied to the southern Atlantic ocean as late as the mid-19th century. Before Europeans discovered other oceans, the term "ocean" itself was synonymous with the waters beyond the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

 that we now know as the Atlantic. The early Greeks believed this ocean to be a gigantic river encircling the world
Oceanus
Oceanus ; , Ōkeanós) was a pseudo-geographical feature in classical antiquity, believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to be the world-ocean, an enormous river encircling the world....

.

The Atlantic Ocean occupies an elongated, S-shaped basin extending longitudinally between Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 to the east, and the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 to the west. As one component of the interconnected global ocean
World Ocean
The World Ocean, world ocean, or global ocean, is the interconnected system of the Earth's oceanic waters, and comprises the bulk of the hydrosphere, covering almost 71% of the Earth's surface, with a total volume of 1.332 billion cubic kilometres.The unity and continuity of the World Ocean, with...

, it is connected in the north to the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

 (which is sometimes considered a sea of the Atlantic), to the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 in the southwest, the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 in the southeast, and the Southern Ocean
Southern Ocean
The Southern Ocean comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60°S latitude and encircling Antarctica. It is usually regarded as the fourth-largest of the five principal oceanic divisions...

 in the south. (Other definitions describe the Atlantic as extending southward to Antarctica.) The equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

 subdivides it into the North Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean.

Geography



The Atlantic Ocean is bounded on the west by North and South America. It connects to the Arctic Ocean through the Denmark Strait
Denmark Strait
The Denmark Strait or Greenland Strait |Sound]]) is an oceanic strait between Greenland and Iceland...

, Greenland Sea
Greenland Sea
The Greenland Sea is a body of water that borders Greenland to the west, the Svalbard archipelago to the east, Fram Strait and the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Norwegian Sea and Iceland to the south. The Greenland Sea is often defined as part of the Arctic Ocean, sometimes as part of the...

, Norwegian Sea
Norwegian Sea
The Norwegian Sea is a marginal sea in the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Norway. It is located between the North Sea and the Greenland Sea and adjoins the North Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Barents Sea to the northeast. In the southwest, it is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a...

 and Barents Sea
Barents Sea
The Barents Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean, located north of Norway and Russia. Known in the Middle Ages as the Murman Sea, the sea takes its current name from the Dutch navigator Willem Barents...

. To the east, the boundaries of the ocean proper are Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

; the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

 (where it connects with the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 –one of its marginal sea
Marginal sea
The term marginal sea has differing meanings. In one sense the term is equivalent to territorial waters. In another sense the term indicates a partially enclosed sea adjacent to or widely open to the open ocean, but bounded by submarine ridges...

s– and, in turn, the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

) and Africa.

In the southeast, the Atlantic merges into the Indian Ocean. The 20° East meridian
20th meridian east
The meridian 20° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Atlantic and Indian oceans, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

, running south from Cape Agulhas
Cape Agulhas
Cape Agulhas is a rocky headland in the Western Cape, South Africa. It is the geographic southern tip of Africa and the official dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 to Antarctica defines its border. Some authorities show it extending south to Antarctica, while others show it bounded at the 60° parallel
60th parallel south
The 60th parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 60 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. No land lies on the parallel—it crosses nothing but ocean...

 by the Southern Ocean.

In the southwest, the Drake Passage
Drake Passage
The Drake Passage or Mar de Hoces—Sea of Hoces—is the body of water between the southern tip of South America at Cape Horn, Chile and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica...

 connects it to the Pacific Ocean. The man-made Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

 links the Atlantic and Pacific. Besides those mentioned, other large bodies of water adjacent to the Atlantic are the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

; the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

; Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay , sometimes called Hudson's Bay, is a large body of saltwater in northeastern Canada. It drains a very large area, about , that includes parts of Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, most of Manitoba, southeastern Nunavut, as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota,...

; the Arctic Ocean; the Mediterranean Sea; the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

; the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 and the Celtic Sea
Celtic Sea
The Celtic Sea is the area of the Atlantic Ocean off the south coast of Ireland bounded to the east by Saint George's Channel; other limits include the Bristol Channel, the English Channel, and the Bay of Biscay, as well as adjacent portions of Wales, Cornwall, Devon, and Brittany...

.

Covering approximately 22% of Earth's surface, the Atlantic is second in size to the Pacific. With its adjacent seas, it occupies an area of about 106400000 square kilometres (41,081,269.7 sq mi); without them, it has an area of 82400000 square kilometres (31,814,817.9 sq mi). The land that drains into the Atlantic covers four times that of either the Pacific or Indian oceans. The volume of the Atlantic with its adjacent seas is 354,700,000 cubic kilometers (85,100,000 cu mi
Cubic mile
A cubic mile is an imperial / U.S. customary unit of volume, used in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It is defined as the volume of a cube with sides of 1 mile in length....

) and without them 323,600,000 cubic kilometres (77,640,000 cu mi).

The average depth of the Atlantic, with its adjacent seas, is 3339 metres (10,954.7 ft); without them it is 3926 metres (12,880.6 ft). The greatest depth, Milwaukee Deep
Milwaukee Deep
Milwaukee Deep, also known as The Milwaukee Depth, is the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean and is part of the Puerto Rico Trench. It has a maximum depth of at least . It is just north of the coast of Puerto Rico at Punto Palmas Altas in Manatí.This ocean floor feature is named for the USS...

 with 8380 metres (27,493.4 ft), is in the Puerto Rico Trench
Puerto Rico Trench
The Puerto Rico Trench is an oceanic trench located on the boundary between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The trench is associated with a complex transition between the subduction zone to the south along the Lesser Antilles island arc and the major transform fault zone or plate boundary...

. The Atlantic's width varies from 2848 kilometres (1,769.7 mi) between Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 and Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

 to over 6400 km (3,976.8 mi) in the south.

Cultural significance



Transatlantic travel played a major role in the expansion of Western civilization into the Americas. It is the Atlantic that separates the "Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

" from the "New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

". In modern times
Modern history
Modern history, or the modern era, describes the historical timeline after the Middle Ages. Modern history can be further broken down into the early modern period and the late modern period after the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution...

, some idiom
Idiom
Idiom is an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is comprehended in regard to a common use of that expression that is separate from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made...

s refer to the ocean in a humorously diminutive way as the Pond, describing both the geographical and cultural divide between North America and Europe, in particular between the English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

-speaking nations of both continents. Many British people refer to the USA and Canada as "across the pond", and vice versa.

Ocean bottom



The principal feature of the bathymetry
Bathymetry
Bathymetry is the study of underwater depth of lake or ocean floors. In other words, bathymetry is the underwater equivalent to hypsometry. The name comes from Greek βαθύς , "deep", and μέτρον , "measure"...

 (bottom topography
Topography
Topography is the study of Earth's surface shape and features or those ofplanets, moons, and asteroids...

) is a submarine mountain range
Mid-ocean ridge
A mid-ocean ridge is a general term for an underwater mountain system that consists of various mountain ranges , typically having a valley known as a rift running along its spine, formed by plate tectonics. This type of oceanic ridge is characteristic of what is known as an oceanic spreading...

 called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Mid-Atlantic Ridge
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a mid-ocean ridge, a divergent tectonic plate boundary located along the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, and part of the longest mountain range in the world. It separates the Eurasian Plate and North American Plate in the North Atlantic, and the African Plate from the South...

. It extends from Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 in the north to approximately 58° South latitude, reaching a maximum width of about 1600 kilometres (994.2 mi). A great rift valley
Rift valley
A rift valley is a linear-shaped lowland between highlands or mountain ranges created by the action of a geologic rift or fault. This action is manifest as crustal extension, a spreading apart of the surface which is subsequently further deepened by the forces of erosion...

 also extends along the ridge over most of its length. The depth of water at the apex of the ridge is less than 2700 metres (8,858.3 ft) in most places, the bottom of the ridge is three times as deep and of course several peaks rise above the water and form islands. The South Atlantic Ocean has an additional submarine ridge, the Walvis Ridge
Walvis Ridge
Walvis Ridge is an ocean ridge in the southern Atlantic Ocean, extending for thousands of miles, off the coast of southwest Africa. Both it and the Rio Grande Rise originated from hotspot volcanism now occurring at the islands of Tristan da Cunha , 300 kilometres east of the crest of the...

.

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge separates the Atlantic Ocean into two large troughs
Trough (geology)
In geology, a trough generally refers to a linear structural depression that extends laterally over a distance, while being less steep than a trench.A trough can be a narrow basin or a geologic rift....

 with depths from 3700–5500 m (12,139.1–18,044.6 ft). Transverse ridges running between the continents and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge divide the ocean floor into numerous basins. Some of the larger basins are the Blake
Blake Basin
The Blake Basin is a deep area of the Atlantic Ocean which runs along the east coast of the United States. It starts at the northern part of the Bahamas and continues up toward New York. Depth exceeds 5400 meters between the Blake Escarpment to the South and West, and the Blake Bahama Outer Ridge....

, Guiana, North American, Cape Verde, and Canaries basins in the North Atlantic. The largest South Atlantic basins are the Angola, Cape, Argentina, and Brazil basins.

The deep ocean floor is thought to be fairly flat with occasional deeps, abyssal plains, trenches
Oceanic trench
The oceanic trenches are hemispheric-scale long but narrow topographic depressions of the sea floor. They are also the deepest parts of the ocean floor....

, seamount
Seamount
A seamount is a mountain rising from the ocean seafloor that does not reach to the water's surface , and thus is not an island. These are typically formed from extinct volcanoes, that rise abruptly and are usually found rising from a seafloor of depth. They are defined by oceanographers as...

s, basins
Oceanic basin
Hydrologically, an oceanic basin may be anywhere on Earth that is covered by seawater, but geologically ocean basins are large geologic basins that are below sea level...

, plateaus
Oceanic plateau
An oceanic plateau is a large, relatively flat submarine region that rises well above the level of the ambient seabed. While many oceanic plateaus are composed of continental crust, and often form a step interrupting the continental slope, some plateaus are undersea remnants of large igneous...

, canyons
Submarine canyon
A submarine canyon is a steep-sided valley on the sea floor of the continental slope. Many submarine canyons are found as extensions to large rivers; however there are some that have no such association. Canyons cutting the continental slopes have been found at depths greater than 2 km below sea...

, and some guyot
Guyot
A guyot , also known as a tablemount, is an isolated underwater volcanic mountain , with a flat top over 200 meters below the surface of the sea. The diameters of these flat summits can exceed ....

s. Various shelves along the margins of the continents constitute about 11% of the bottom topography with few deep channels cut across the continental rise.

Ocean floor trenches and seamounts:
  • Puerto Rico Trench
    Puerto Rico Trench
    The Puerto Rico Trench is an oceanic trench located on the boundary between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The trench is associated with a complex transition between the subduction zone to the south along the Lesser Antilles island arc and the major transform fault zone or plate boundary...

    , in the North Atlantic, is the deepest trench at 8605 metres (28,231.6 ft)
  • Laurentian Abyss
    Laurentian Abyss
    The Laurentian Abyss is an underwater depression off the eastern coast of Canada in the Atlantic Ocean. Not a trench, but more of an "underwater valley", it is estimated to be at most ~6,000 meters in depth...

     is found off the eastern coast of Canada
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

  • South Sandwich Trench
    South Sandwich Trench
    The South Sandwich Trench is a deep arcuate trench in the South Atlantic Ocean lying 100 km to the east of the South Sandwich Islands. The trench is produced by the subduction of the southernmost portion of the South American Plate beneath the small South Sandwich Plate. The South Sandwich...

     reaches a depth of 8428 metres (27,650.9 ft)
  • Romanche Trench
    Romanche Trench
    The Romanche Trench, also called the Romanche Furrow or Romanche Gap, is the third deepest of the major trenches of the Atlantic Ocean, after the Puerto Rico Trench and the South Sandwich Trench. It bisects the Mid-Atlantic Ridge just north of the equator at the narrowest part of the Atlantic...

     is located near the equator
    Equator
    An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

     and reaches a depth of about 7454 metres (24,455.4 ft).


Ocean sediment
Sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

s are composed of:
  • Terrigenous
    Terrigenous
    In oceanography, terrigenous sediments are those derived from the erosion of rocks on land; that is, that are derived from terrestrial environments. Consisting of sand, mud, and silt carried to sea by rivers, their composition is usually related to their source rocks; deposition of these sediments...

     deposits with land origins, consisting of sand, mud, and rock particles formed by erosion
    Erosion
    Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

    , weathering
    Weathering
    Weathering is the breaking down of rocks, soils and minerals as well as artificial materials through contact with the Earth's atmosphere, biota and waters...

    , and volcanic activity on land washed to sea. These materials are found mostly on the continental shelves
    Continental shelf
    The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain. Much of the shelf was exposed during glacial periods, but is now submerged under relatively shallow seas and gulfs, and was similarly submerged during other interglacial periods. The continental margin,...

     and are thickest near large river mouths or off desert coasts.
  • Pelagic deposits, which contain the remains of organisms that sink to the ocean floor, include red clays and Globigerina
    Globigerinida
    The Globigerinida are a common group of foraminiferans that are found as marine plankton . They produce hyaline calcareous tests, and are known as fossils from the Jurassic period onwards. The group has included more than 100 genera and over 400 species, of which about 30 species are extant...

    , pteropod, and siliceous oozes. Covering most of the ocean floor and ranging in thickness from 60–3300 m (196.9–10,826.8 ft) they are thickest in the convergence belts, notably at the Hamilton Ridge and in upwelling zones.
  • Authigenic
    Authigenic
    An authigenic mineral or sedimentary rock deposit is one that was generated where it is found or observed. Authigenic sedimentary minerals form during sedimentation by precipitation or recrystallization instead of being transported from elsewhere by water or wind. Authigenic sediments are the main...

     deposits consist of such materials as manganese nodule
    Manganese nodule
    Polymetallic nodules, also called manganese nodules, are rock concretions on the sea bottom formed of concentric layers of iron and manganese hydroxides around a core. The core may be microscopically small and is sometimes completely transformed into manganese minerals by crystallization...

    s. They occur where sedimentation proceeds slowly or where currents sort the deposits, such as in the Hewett Curve.

Water characteristics




On average, the Atlantic is the saltiest major ocean; surface water salinity
Salinity
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. It is a general term used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates...

 in the open ocean ranges from 33 to 37 parts per thousand (3.3 – 3.7%) by mass and varies with latitude and season. Evaporation, precipitation, river inflow and sea ice
Sea ice
Sea ice is largely formed from seawater that freezes. Because the oceans consist of saltwater, this occurs below the freezing point of pure water, at about -1.8 °C ....

 melting influence surface salinity values. Although the lowest salinity values are just north of the equator (because of heavy tropical rainfall), in general the lowest values are in the high latitudes and along coasts where large rivers enter. Maximum salinity values occur at about 25° north and south, in subtropical regions with low rainfall and high evaporation.

Surface water temperatures, which vary with latitude, current systems, and season and reflect the latitudinal distribution of solar energy, range from below −2 C. Maximum temperatures occur north of the equator, and minimum values are found in the polar regions. In the middle latitudes, the area of maximum temperature variations, values may vary by 7–8 °C (12–15 °F).

The Atlantic Ocean consists of four major water masses. The North and South Atlantic central waters make up the surface. The sub-Antarctic intermediate water extends to depths of 1000 metres (3,280.8 ft). The North Atlantic Deep Water
North Atlantic Deep Water
North Atlantic Deep Water is a water mass that forms in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is largely formed in the Labrador Sea and in the Greenland Sea by the sinking of highly saline, dense overflow water from the Greenland Sea...

 reaches depths of as much as 4000 metres (13,123.4 ft). The Antarctic Bottom Water
Antarctic Bottom Water
The 'Antarctic Bottom Water' is a type of water mass in the seas surrounding Antarctica with temperatures ranging from 0 to -0.8◦ C, salinities from 34.6 to 34.7 psu, and a density near 27.88...

 occupies ocean basins at depths greater than 4,000 meters.

Within the North Atlantic, ocean currents isolate the Sargasso Sea
Sargasso Sea
The Sargasso Sea is a region in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by ocean currents. It is bounded on the west by the Gulf Stream; on the north, by the North Atlantic Current; on the east, by the Canary Current; and on the south, by the North Atlantic Equatorial Current. This...

, a large elongated body of water, with above average salinity. The Sargasso Sea contains large amounts of seaweed
Seaweed
Seaweed is a loose, colloquial term encompassing macroscopic, multicellular, benthic marine algae. The term includes some members of the red, brown and green algae...

 and is also the spawning ground for both the European eel
European eel
The European eel, Anguilla anguilla, is a species of eel, a snake-like, catadromous fish. They can reach in exceptional cases a length of 1½ m, but are normally much smaller, about 60–80 cm, and rarely more than 1 m....

 and the American eel
American eel
The American eel, Anguilla rostrata, is a catadromous fish found on the eastern coast of North America. It has a snake-like body with a small sharp pointed head. It is brown on top and a tan-yellow color on the bottom. It has sharp pointed teeth but no pelvic fins...

.

The Coriolis effect
Coriolis effect
In physics, the Coriolis effect is a deflection of moving objects when they are viewed in a rotating reference frame. In a reference frame with clockwise rotation, the deflection is to the left of the motion of the object; in one with counter-clockwise rotation, the deflection is to the right...

 circulates North Atlantic water in a clockwise direction, whereas South Atlantic water circulates counter-clockwise. The south tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

s in the Atlantic Ocean are semi-diurnal; that is, two high tides occur during each 24 lunar hours. In latitudes above 40° North some east-west oscillation occurs.

Climate


Climate is influenced by the temperatures of the surface waters and water currents as well as winds. Because of the ocean's great capacity to store and release heat, maritime climates are more moderate and have less extreme seasonal variations than inland climates. Precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 can be approximated from coastal weather data and air temperature from water temperatures.

The oceans are the major source of the atmospheric moisture that is obtained through evaporation. Climatic zones vary with latitude; the warmest zones stretch across the Atlantic north of the equator. The coldest zones are in high latitudes, with the coldest regions corresponding to the areas covered by sea ice. Ocean currents influence climate by transporting warm and cold waters to other regions. The winds that are cooled or warmed when blowing over these currents influence adjacent land areas.

The Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream
The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean...

 and its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift
North Atlantic Current
The North Atlantic Current is a powerful warm ocean current that continues the Gulf Stream northeast. West of Ireland it splits in two; one branch, the Canary Current, goes south, while the other continues north along the coast of northwestern Europe...

, for example, warms the atmosphere of the British Isles and north-western Europe, and the cold water currents contribute to heavy fog off the coast of eastern Canada (the Grand Banks of Newfoundland area) and Africa's north-western coast. In general, winds transport moisture and air over land areas. Hurricanes
Tropical cyclone
A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor...

 develop in the southern part of the North Atlantic Ocean.

History



The Atlantic Ocean appears to be the second youngest of the five oceans. It did not exist prior to 130 million years ago, when the continents that formed from the breakup of the ancestral super continent Pangaea
Pangaea
Pangaea, Pangæa, or Pangea is hypothesized as a supercontinent that existed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras about 250 million years ago, before the component continents were separated into their current configuration....

 were drifting apart from seafloor spreading. The Atlantic has been extensively explored since the earliest settlements along its shores.

The Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

s, the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, and the Spaniards were the most famous among early explorers. After Columbus, European exploration rapidly accelerated, and many new trade routes were established.

As a result, the Atlantic became and remains the major artery between Europe and the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 (known as transatlantic trade). Scientific explorations include the Challenger expedition
Challenger expedition
The Challenger expedition of 1872–76 was a scientific exercise that made many discoveries to lay the foundation of oceanography. The expedition was named after the mother vessel, HMS Challenger....

, the German Meteor expedition
German Meteor expedition
The German Meteor expedition was an oceanographic expedition that explored the South Atlantic ocean from the equatorial region to Antarctica in 1925–1927...

, Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
The Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory is a research unit of Columbia University located on a campus in Palisades, N.Y., north of Manhattan on the Hudson River.- History :...

 and the United States Navy Hydrographic Office.

Notable crossings



  • In 1000, the Icelander, Leif Ericson
    Leif Ericson
    Leif Ericson was a Norse explorer who is regarded as the first European to land in North America , nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus...

     was the first European to discover North America's Atlantic coast, including Vinland
    Vinland
    Vinland was the name given to an area of North America by the Norsemen, about the year 1000 CE.There is a consensus among scholars that the Vikings reached North America approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus...

    . The Norse
    Norsemen
    Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

     discovery was documented in the 13th century Icelandic Sagas and was corroborated by recent L'Anse aux Meadows archeological evidence
    L'Anse aux Meadows
    L'Anse aux Meadows is an archaeological site on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Discovered in 1960, it is the only known site of a Norse or Viking village in Canada, and in North America outside of Greenland...

    .
  • In 1003, Thorfinnr Karlsefni
    Thorfinn Karlsefni
    Thorfinn Karlsefni was an Icelandic explorer who circa 1010 AD led an attempt to settle Vínland with three ships and 160 settlers. Among the settlers was Freydís Eiríksdóttir, according to Grœnlendinga saga and Eiríks saga rauða, sister or half-sister of Leif Eriksson...

     led an attempted Viking
    Viking
    The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

     settlement in North America but was driven off by the natives.
  • In 1004, Snorri Thorfinnsson was the first European born on the American continent.
  • In 1419 and 1427, Portuguese navigators
    Portuguese Empire
    The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

     reached Madeira
    Madeira
    Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago that lies between and , just under 400 km north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean and an outermost region of the European Union...

     and Azores
    Azores
    The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about west from Lisbon and about east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the...

    , respectively.
  • From 1415 to 1488, Portuguese navigators sailed along the Western African coast, reaching the Cape of Good Hope
    Cape of Good Hope
    The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the...

    .
  • In 1492, Christopher Columbus
    Christopher Columbus
    Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

     landed on the island of San Salvador in The Bahamas
    The Bahamas
    The Bahamas , officially the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, is a nation consisting of 29 islands, 661 cays, and 2,387 islets . It is located in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba and Hispaniola , northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and southeast of the United States...

    .
  • In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral
    Pedro Álvares Cabral
    Pedro Álvares Cabral was a Portuguese noble, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the discoverer of Brazil. Cabral conducted the first substantial exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal. While details of Cabral's early life are sketchy, it...

     reached Brazil
    Brazil
    Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

    .
  • In 1524, Italian
    Italy
    Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

     explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered the United States of America
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    's east coast.
  • In 1764 William Harrison (the son of John Harrison
    John Harrison
    John Harrison was a self-educated English clockmaker. He invented the marine chronometer, a long-sought device in solving the problem of establishing the East-West position or longitude of a ship at sea, thus revolutionising and extending the possibility of safe long distance sea travel in the Age...

    ) sailed aboard the HMS Tartar
    HMS Tartar (1756)
    HMS Tartar was a 28-gun sixth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy. The ship was designed by Sir Thomas Slade and based on the Lyme of 1748, "with such alterations as may tend to the better stowing of men and carrying for guns."...

    , with the H-4 time piece. The voyage became the basis for the invention of the global system of Longitude
    Longitude
    Longitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east-west position of a point on the Earth's surface. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds, and denoted by the Greek letter lambda ....

    .
  • In 1858, Cyrus West Field
    Cyrus West Field
    Cyrus West Field was an American businessman and financier who, along with other entrepreneurs, created the Atlantic Telegraph Company and laid the first telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean in 1858.-Life and career:...

     laid the first transatlantic telegraph cable
    Transatlantic telegraph cable
    The transatlantic telegraph cable was the first cable used for telegraph communications laid across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. It crossed from , Foilhommerum Bay, Valentia Island, in western Ireland to Heart's Content in eastern Newfoundland. The transatlantic cable connected North America...

     (it quickly failed).
  • In 1865 Brunel
    Isambard Kingdom Brunel
    Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS , was a British civil engineer who built bridges and dockyards including the construction of the first major British railway, the Great Western Railway; a series of steamships, including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship; and numerous important bridges...

    's ship the SS Great Eastern
    SS Great Eastern
    SS Great Eastern was an iron sailing steam ship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and built by J. Scott Russell & Co. at Millwall on the River Thames, London. She was by far the largest ship ever built at the time of her 1858 launch, and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers around the...

     laid the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable .
  • In 1896 Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo
    Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo
    Franky Samuelsen and George Harbo were Norwegian-born Americans who in 1896, became the first people ever to row across an ocean. Their time record for rowing the North Atlantic Ocean was not broken for 114 years, though by four rowers instead of two.-George Harbo:George Harbo was from...

     from Norway became the first people to ever row across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • On April 15, 1912 the RMS Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg
    Iceberg
    An iceberg is a large piece of ice from freshwater that has broken off from a snow-formed glacier or ice shelf and is floating in open water. It may subsequently become frozen into pack ice...

     with a loss of more than 1,500 lives.
  • 1914–1918, the First Battle of the Atlantic took place.
  • In 1919, the American NC-4
    NC-4
    The NC-4 was a Curtiss NC flying boat which was designed by Glenn Curtiss and his team, and manufactured by Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. In May 1919, the NC-4 became the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, starting in the United States and making the crossing as far as Lisbon,...

     became the first fixed-wing aircraft
    Fixed-wing aircraft
    A fixed-wing aircraft is an aircraft capable of flight using wings that generate lift due to the vehicle's forward airspeed. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft in which wings rotate about a fixed mast and ornithopters in which lift is generated by flapping wings.A powered...

     (seaplane) to cross the Atlantic (though it made a couple of landings on islands and the sea along the way, and taxied several hundred miles).
  • Later in 1919, a British aeroplane piloted by Alcock and Brown
    Alcock and Brown
    British aviators Alcock and Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919. They flew a modified World War I Vickers Vimy bomber from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland...

     made the first non-stop transatlantic flight, from Newfoundland to Ireland
    Ireland
    Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

    .
  • In 1921, the British
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     were the first to cross the North Atlantic in an airship
    Airship
    An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

    .
  • In 1922, Sacadura Cabral and Gago Coutinho
    Gago Coutinho
    Carlos Viegas Gago Coutinho, GCTE, GCC, generally known simply as Gago Coutinho was a Portuguese aviation pioneer who, together with Sacadura Cabral , was the first to cross the South Atlantic Ocean by air, from March to June 1922 , from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro.The Fairey IIIB seaplane used by...

     were the first to cross the South Atlantic in an airship.
  • In 1927, Charles Lindbergh
    Charles Lindbergh
    Charles Augustus Lindbergh was an American aviator, author, inventor, explorer, and social activist.Lindbergh, a 25-year-old U.S...

     made the first solo non-stop transatlantic flight in an aircraft (between New York City
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

     and Paris
    Paris
    Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

    ).
  • In 1932, Amelia Earhart
    Amelia Earhart
    Amelia Mary Earhart was a noted American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first woman to receive the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for becoming the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean...

     became the first female to make a solo flight across the Atlantic
  • 1939–1945, the Second Battle of the Atlantic
    Second Battle of the Atlantic
    The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign in World War II, running from 1939 to the defeat of Germany in 1945. At its core was the Allied naval blockade of Germany, announced the day after the declaration of war, and Germany's subsequent counter-blockade. It was at its...

    . Nearly 3,700 Allied ships were sunk at a cost of 783 German U-boat
    U-boat
    U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

    s.
  • In 1952, Ann Davison
    Ann Davison
    Ann Davison was, at the age of 39, the first woman to single-handedly sail the Atlantic Ocean. She departed Plymouth, England in her 23 foot boat Felicity Ann on May 18, 1952. She landed in Brittany, Portugal, Morocco and the Canary Islands, before setting sail across the Atlantic on 20 November...

     was the first woman to single-handedly sail
    Sail
    A sail is any type of surface intended to move a vessel, vehicle or rotor by being placed in a wind—in essence a propulsion wing. Sails are used in sailing.-History of sails:...

     the Atlantic Ocean.
  • In 1969 and 1970 Thor Heyerdahl
    Thor Heyerdahl
    Thor Heyerdahl was a Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer with a background in zoology and geography. He became notable for his Kon-Tiki expedition, in which he sailed by raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands...

     launched expeditions to cross the Atlantic in boats built from papyrus
    Papyrus
    Papyrus is a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt....

    . He succeeded in crossing the Atlantic from Morocco
    Morocco
    Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

     to Barbados
    Barbados
    Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

     after a two-month voyage of 6,100 km with Ra II in 1970, thus conclusively proving that boats such as the Ra could have sailed with the Canary Current
    Canary Current
    The Canary Current is a wind-driven surface current that is part of the North Atlantic Gyre. This eastern boundary current branches south from the North Atlantic Current and flows southwest about as far as Senegal where it turns west and later joins the Atlantic North Equatorial Current. The...

     across the Atlantic in prehistoric times.
  • In 1975, Fons Oerlemans crossed the Atlantic in 82 days, starting from Safi (Morocco) to Trinidad and Tobago, on a selfmade raft.
  • In 1980, Gérard d'Aboville
    Gérard d'Aboville
    Gérard d'Aboville is the first man to row across two oceans solo: the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. He crossed the Atlantic in 1980, travelling from Cape Cod to Brittany...

     was the first man to cross the Atlantic Ocean rowing.
  • In 1984, Five Argentines
    Argentina
    Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

     sail in a 10-meter-long raft made from tree trunks named Atlantis from Canary Islands
    Canary Islands
    The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

     and after 52 days 3000 miles (4,828 km) journey arrived to Venezuela
    Venezuela
    Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

     in an attempt to prove travelers from Africa may have crossed the Atlantic before Christopher Columbus
    Christopher Columbus
    Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

    .
  • In 1994, Guy Delage
    Guy Delage
    Guy Delage claims he is the first person to swim solo across the Atlantic Ocean . 16 December 1994....

     was the first man to allegedly swim across the Atlantic Ocean (with the help of a kick board, from Cape Verde
    Cape Verde
    The Republic of Cape Verde is an island country, spanning an archipelago of 10 islands located in the central Atlantic Ocean, 570 kilometres off the coast of Western Africa...

     to Barbados
    Barbados
    Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

    ).
  • In 1998, Benoît Lecomte
    Benoit Lecomte
    Benoît Lecomte is a French long distance swimmer who has received wide credit for being the first man to swim across the Atlantic Ocean without a kick board in 1998. He did this to raise money for cancer research as a tribute to his father...

     was the first man to swim across the northern Atlantic Ocean without a kick board, stopping for only one week in the Azores
    Azores
    The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about west from Lisbon and about east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the...

    .
  • In 1999, after rowing for 81 days and 4,767 kilometres (2,962 mi), Tori Murden
    Tori Murden
    Victoria Murden McClure is an explorer who was the first woman to make a solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by rowboat. She was also the first woman and first American to ski to the geographic South Pole...

     became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by rowboat alone when she reached Guadeloupe
    Guadeloupe
    Guadeloupe is an archipelago located in the Leeward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres and a population of 400,000. It is the first overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe...

     from the Canary Islands
    Canary Islands
    The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

    .

Ethiopic Ocean


The Aethiopian Sea
Aethiopian Sea
Aethiopian Sea was the name given to the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean in classical geographical works from ancient times to the 19th century...

, Ethiopic Ocean or Ethiopian Ocean (Okeanos Aithiopos), is an old name for what is now called the South Atlantic Ocean, which is separated from the North Atlantic Ocean by a narrow region between Natal, Brazil and Monrovia, Liberia. The use of this term illustrates a past trend towards referring to the whole continent of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 by the name Aethiopia. The modern nation of Ethiopia, in northeast Africa, is nowhere near the Ethiopic Ocean, which would be said to lie off the west coast of Africa. The term Ethiopian Ocean sometimes appeared until the mid-19th century.

Economy


The Atlantic has contributed significantly to the development and economy of surrounding countries. Besides major transatlantic transportation and communication routes, the Atlantic offers abundant petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 deposits in the sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....

s of the continental shelves. The Atlantic hosts the world's richest fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

 resources, especially in the waters covering the shelves. The major fish are cod
Cod
Cod is the common name for genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae, and is also used in the common name for various other fishes. Cod is a popular food with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of...

, haddock
Haddock
The haddock , also known as the offshore hake, is a marine fish distributed on both sides of the North Atlantic. Haddock is a popular food fish and is widely fished commercially....

, hake
Hake
The term hake refers to fish in either of:* family Phycidae of the northern oceans* family Merlucciidae of the southern oceans-Hake fish:...

, herring
Herring
Herring is an oily fish of the genus Clupea, found in the shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans, including the Baltic Sea. Three species of Clupea are recognized. The main taxa, the Atlantic herring and the Pacific herring may each be divided into subspecies...

, and mackerel
Mackerel
Mackerel is a common name applied to a number of different species of fish, mostly, but not exclusively, from the family Scombridae. They may be found in all tropical and temperate seas. Most live offshore in the oceanic environment but a few, like the Spanish mackerel , enter bays and can be...

.

The most productive areas include Newfoundland's Grand Banks
Grand Banks
The Grand Banks of Newfoundland are a group of underwater plateaus southeast of Newfoundland on the North American continental shelf. These areas are relatively shallow, ranging from in depth. The cold Labrador Current mixes with the warm waters of the Gulf Stream here.The mixing of these waters...

, the Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 shelf, Georges Bank
Georges Bank
Georges Bank is a large elevated area of the sea floor which separates the Gulf of Maine from the Atlantic Ocean and is situated between Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia ....

 off Cape Cod
Cape Cod
Cape Cod, often referred to locally as simply the Cape, is a cape in the easternmost portion of the state of Massachusetts, in the Northeastern United States...

, the Bahama Banks
Bahama Banks
The Bahama Banks are the submerged carbonate platforms that make up much of the Bahama Archipelago. The term is usually applied in referring to either the Great Bahama Bank around Andros Island, or the Little Bahama Bank of Grand Bahama Island and Great Abaco, which are the largest of the...

, the waters around Iceland, the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
The Irish Sea separates the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. It is connected to the Celtic Sea in the south by St George's Channel, and to the Atlantic Ocean in the north by the North Channel. Anglesey is the largest island within the Irish Sea, followed by the Isle of Man...

, the Dogger Bank
Dogger Bank
Dogger Bank is a large sandbank in a shallow area of the North Sea about off the east coast of England. It extends over approximately , with its dimensions being about long and up to broad. The water depth ranges from 15 to 36 metres , about shallower than the surrounding sea. It is a...

 of the North Sea, and the Falkland Banks. Eel
Eel
Eels are an order of fish, which consists of four suborders, 20 families, 111 genera and approximately 800 species. Most eels are predators...

, lobster
Lobster
Clawed lobsters comprise a family of large marine crustaceans. Highly prized as seafood, lobsters are economically important, and are often one of the most profitable commodities in coastal areas they populate.Though several groups of crustaceans are known as lobsters, the clawed lobsters are most...

, and whale
Whale
Whale is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to suborder Odontoceti . This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga...

s appear in great quantities. Various international treaties attempt to reduce pollution caused by environmental threats such as oil spills, marine debris
Marine debris
Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is human created waste that has deliberately or accidentally become afloat in a lake, sea, ocean or waterway. Oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the centre of gyres and on coastlines, frequently washing aground, when it is known as beach litter or...

, and the incineration
Incineration
Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials. Incineration and other high temperature waste treatment systems are described as "thermal treatment". Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas, and...

 of toxic wastes at sea.

Terrain


From October to June the surface is usually covered with sea ice in the Labrador Sea
Labrador Sea
The Labrador Sea is an arm of the North Atlantic Ocean between the Labrador Peninsula and Greenland. The sea is flanked by continental shelves to the southwest, northwest, and northeast. It connects to the north with Baffin Bay through the Davis Strait...

, Denmark Strait
Denmark Strait
The Denmark Strait or Greenland Strait |Sound]]) is an oceanic strait between Greenland and Iceland...

, and Baltic Sea. A clockwise warm-water gyre
Gyre
A gyre in oceanography is any large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. Gyres are caused by the Coriolis Effect; planetary vorticity along with horizontal and vertical friction, which determine the circulation patterns from the wind curl...

 occupies the northern Atlantic, and a counter-clockwise warm-water gyre appears in the southern Atlantic. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Mid-Atlantic Ridge
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a mid-ocean ridge, a divergent tectonic plate boundary located along the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, and part of the longest mountain range in the world. It separates the Eurasian Plate and North American Plate in the North Atlantic, and the African Plate from the South...

, a rugged north-south centerline for the entire Atlantic basin, first discovered by the Challenger Expedition
Challenger expedition
The Challenger expedition of 1872–76 was a scientific exercise that made many discoveries to lay the foundation of oceanography. The expedition was named after the mother vessel, HMS Challenger....

 dominates the ocean floor. This was formed by the vulcanism that also formed the ocean floor and the islands rising from it.

The Atlantic has irregular coasts indented by numerous bays, gulfs, and seas. These include the Norwegian Sea
Norwegian Sea
The Norwegian Sea is a marginal sea in the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Norway. It is located between the North Sea and the Greenland Sea and adjoins the North Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Barents Sea to the northeast. In the southwest, it is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a...

, Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

, Labrador Sea
Labrador Sea
The Labrador Sea is an arm of the North Atlantic Ocean between the Labrador Peninsula and Greenland. The sea is flanked by continental shelves to the southwest, northwest, and northeast. It connects to the north with Baffin Bay through the Davis Strait...

, Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

, Gulf of Saint Lawrence
Gulf of Saint Lawrence
The Gulf of Saint Lawrence , the world's largest estuary, is the outlet of North America's Great Lakes via the Saint Lawrence River into the Atlantic Ocean...

, Bay of Fundy
Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is a bay on the Atlantic coast of North America, on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small portion touching the U.S. state of Maine...

, Gulf of Maine
Gulf of Maine
The Gulf of Maine is a large gulf of the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast of North America.It is delineated by Cape Cod at the eastern tip of Massachusetts in the southwest and Cape Sable at the southern tip of Nova Scotia in the northeast. It includes the entire coastlines of the U.S...

, Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

, and Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

.

Islands include Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

, Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 (including numerous surrounding islands), Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, Rockall
Rockall
Rockall is an extremely small, uninhabited, remote rocky islet in the North Atlantic Ocean. It gives its name to one of the sea areas named in the shipping forecast provided by the British Meteorological Office....

, Newfoundland, Sable Island
Sable Island
Sable Island is a small Canadian island situated 300 km southeast of mainland Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Ocean. The island is a year-round home to approximately five people...

, Azores
Azores
The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about west from Lisbon and about east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the...

, Madeira
Madeira
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago that lies between and , just under 400 km north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean and an outermost region of the European Union...

, Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

, Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

, Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, Cape Verde
Cape Verde
The Republic of Cape Verde is an island country, spanning an archipelago of 10 islands located in the central Atlantic Ocean, 570 kilometres off the coast of Western Africa...

, São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe, officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. It consists of two islands: São Tomé and Príncipe, located about apart and about , respectively, off...

, Annobón Province
Annobón Province
Annobón , also known as Pagalu or Pigalu, is an island of Equatorial Guinea. It is located in the South Atlantic Ocean at , about 220 miles west of Gabon and south west of São Tomé Island...

, Fernando de Noronha
Fernando de Noronha
Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago of 21 islands and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, offshore from the Brazilian coast. The main island has an area of and had a population of 3,012 in the year 2010...

, Rocas Atoll
Rocas Atoll
The Rocas Atoll is an atoll in the Atlantic Ocean, belonging to the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Norte. It is located approximately northeast of Natal and west of the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha. The atoll is of volcanic origin and coralline formation.-Description:The oval atoll is ...

, Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around from the coast of Africa and from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa...

, Saint Helena
Saint Helena
Saint Helena , named after St Helena of Constantinople, is an island of volcanic origin in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha which also includes Ascension Island and the islands of Tristan da Cunha...

, The Islands of Trindad
Trindade and Martim Vaz
Trindade and Martim Vaz is an archipelago located about 1,200 kilometers east of Vitória in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, belonging to the State of Espírito Santo, Brazil. The archipelago has a total area of 10.4 km² and a population of 32...

, Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha is a remote volcanic group of islands in the south Atlantic Ocean and the main island of that group. It is the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world, lying from the nearest land, South Africa, and from South America...

, Gough Island
Gough Island
Gough Island , also known historically as Gonçalo Álvares or Diego Alvarez, is a volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is a dependency of Tristan da Cunha and part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha...

 (Also known as Diego Alvarez), Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...

, Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of a main island Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego divided between Chile and Argentina with an area of , and a group of smaller islands including Cape...

, South Georgia Island, South Sandwich Islands, and Bouvet Island
Bouvet Island
Bouvet Island is an uninhabited Antarctic volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean, 2,525 km south-southwest of South Africa. It is a dependent territory of Norway and, lying north of 60°S latitude, is not subject to the Antarctic Treaty. The centre of the island is an ice-filled crater of an...

.

Natural resources


The Atlantic harbors petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 and gas
Gas
Gas is one of the three classical states of matter . Near absolute zero, a substance exists as a solid. As heat is added to this substance it melts into a liquid at its melting point , boils into a gas at its boiling point, and if heated high enough would enter a plasma state in which the electrons...

 fields, fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, marine mammal
Marine mammal
Marine mammals, which include seals, whales, dolphins, and walruses, form a diverse group of 128 species that rely on the ocean for their existence. They do not represent a distinct biological grouping, but rather are unified by their reliance on the marine environment for feeding. The level of...

s (seals
Pinniped
Pinnipeds or fin-footed mammals are a widely distributed and diverse group of semiaquatic marine mammals comprising the families Odobenidae , Otariidae , and Phocidae .-Overview: Pinnipeds are typically sleek-bodied and barrel-shaped...

 and whales), sand
Sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

 and gravel
Gravel
Gravel is composed of unconsolidated rock fragments that have a general particle size range and include size classes from granule- to boulder-sized fragments. Gravel can be sub-categorized into granule and cobble...

 aggregates, placer deposit
Placer deposit
In geology, a placer deposit or placer is an accumulation of valuable minerals formed by gravity separation during sedimentary processes. The name is from the Spanish word placer, meaning "alluvial sand". Placer mining is an important source of gold, and was the main technique used in the early...

s, polymetallic nodules, and precious stones.

Natural hazards



Iceberg
Iceberg
An iceberg is a large piece of ice from freshwater that has broken off from a snow-formed glacier or ice shelf and is floating in open water. It may subsequently become frozen into pack ice...

s are common from February to August in the Davis Strait
Davis Strait
Davis Strait is a northern arm of the Labrador Sea. It lies between mid-western Greenland and Nunavut, Canada's Baffin Island. The strait was named for the English explorer John Davis , who explored the area while seeking a Northwest Passage....

, Denmark Strait
Denmark Strait
The Denmark Strait or Greenland Strait |Sound]]) is an oceanic strait between Greenland and Iceland...

, and the northwestern Atlantic and have been spotted as far south as Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

 and Madeira
Madeira
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago that lies between and , just under 400 km north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean and an outermost region of the European Union...

. Ships are subject to superstructure icing
Icing (nautical)
Icing on ships is a serious hazard where cold temperatures combined with high wind speed result in spray blown off the sea freezing immediately on contact with the ship...

 in the extreme north from October to May. Persistent fog can be a maritime hazard from May to September, as can hurricanes north of the equator (May to December).

The United States' southeast coast has a long history of shipwrecks due to its many shoals and reefs. The Virginia and North Carolina coasts were particularly dangerous.

The Bermuda Triangle
Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, is a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and surface vessels allegedly disappeared under mysterious circumstances....

 is popularly believed to be the site of numerous aviation and shipping incidents because of unexplained and supposedly mysterious causes, but Coast Guard
Coast guard
A coast guard or coastguard is a national organization responsible for various services at sea. However the term implies widely different responsibilities in different countries, from being a heavily armed military force with customs and security duties to being a volunteer organization tasked with...

 records do not support this belief.

Hurricanes are also a natural hazard in the Atlantic, but mainly in the northern part of the ocean, rarely tropical cyclones form in the southern parts. Hurricanes usually form between June 1 and November 30 of every year. The most notable hurricane in the Atlantic would be Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

 in the 2005 season
2005 Atlantic hurricane season
The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history, repeatedly shattering numerous records. The impact of the season was widespread and ruinous with an estimated 3,913 deaths and record damage of about $159.2 billion...

.

Current environmental issues


Endangered marine species include the manatee
Manatee
Manatees are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows...

, seals
Pinniped
Pinnipeds or fin-footed mammals are a widely distributed and diverse group of semiaquatic marine mammals comprising the families Odobenidae , Otariidae , and Phocidae .-Overview: Pinnipeds are typically sleek-bodied and barrel-shaped...

, sea lion
Sea Lion
Sea lions are pinnipeds characterized by external ear-flaps, long fore-flippers, the ability to walk on all fours, and short thick hair. Together with the fur seal, they comprise the family Otariidae, or eared seals. There are six extant and one extinct species in five genera...

s, turtle
Turtle
Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines , characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield...

s, and whale
Whale
Whale is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to suborder Odontoceti . This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga...

s. Drift net
Drift net
Drift netting is a fishing technique where nets, called drift nets, are allowed to float freely at the surface of a sea or lake. Usually a drift net is a gill net with floats attached to a rope along the top of the net, and weights attached to another rope along the foot of the net to keep the net...

 fishing can kill dolphin
Dolphin
Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from and , up to and . They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating...

s, albatross
Albatross
Albatrosses, of the biological family Diomedeidae, are large seabirds allied to the procellariids, storm-petrels and diving-petrels in the order Procellariiformes . They range widely in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific...

es and other seabirds (petrel
Petrel
Petrels are tube-nosed seabirds in the bird order Procellariiformes. The common name does not indicate relationship beyond that point, as "petrels" occur in three of the four families within that group...

s, auk
Auk
An auk is a bird of the family Alcidae in the order Charadriiformes. Auks are superficially similar to penguins due to their black-and-white colours, their upright posture and some of their habits...

s), hastening the fish stock decline and contributing to international disputes. Municipal pollution comes from the eastern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, southern Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, and eastern Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

; oil pollution in the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

, Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

, Lake Maracaibo
Lake Maracaibo
Lake Maracaibo is a large brackish bay in Venezuela at . It is connected to the Gulf of Venezuela by Tablazo Strait at the northern end, and fed by numerous rivers, the largest being the Catatumbo. It is commonly considered a lake rather than a bay or lagoon, and at 13,210 km² it would be the...

, Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, and North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

; and industrial waste and municipal sewage pollution in the Baltic Sea, North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

, and Mediterranean Sea.

In 2005, there was some concern that warm northern European currents were slowing down, but no scientific consensus formed from that evidence.

On June 7, 2006, Florida's wildlife commission voted to take the manatee
Manatee
Manatees are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows...

 off the state's endangered species list. Some environmentalists worry that this could erode safeguards for the popular sea creature.

Marine pollution


Marine pollution is a generic term for the entry into the ocean of potentially hazardous chemicals or particles. The biggest culprits are rivers and with them many agriculture fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

 chemicals as well as livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

 and human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 waste. The excess of oxygen-depleting chemicals leads to hypoxia
Hypoxia (environmental)
Hypoxia, or oxygen depletion, is a phenomenon that occurs in aquatic environments as dissolved oxygen becomes reduced in concentration to a point where it becomes detrimental to aquatic organisms living in the system...

 and the creation of a dead zone
Dead zone (ecology)
Dead zones are hypoxic areas in the world's oceans, the observed incidences of which have been increasing since oceanographers began noting them in the 1970s. These occur near inhabited coastlines, where aquatic life is most concentrated...

.

Marine debris
Marine debris
Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is human created waste that has deliberately or accidentally become afloat in a lake, sea, ocean or waterway. Oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the centre of gyres and on coastlines, frequently washing aground, when it is known as beach litter or...

, which is also known as marine litter, describes human-created waste floating in a body of water. Oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the center of gyres and coastlines, frequently washing aground where it is known as beach litter.

Bordering countries and territories


The states (territories in italics) with a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean (excluding the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas) are:

Africa


  • (claimed by Morocco) (Canary Islands
    Canary Islands
    The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

    )


Caribbean


  • (Martinique
    Martinique
    Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of . Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados...

     and Guadeloupe
    Guadeloupe
    Guadeloupe is an archipelago located in the Leeward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres and a population of 400,000. It is the first overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe...

    )
  • (Caribbean Netherlands)


Central and North America




See also


  • List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean
  • Ocean Highway
    Ocean Highway
    Ocean Highway was a designation established early in the 20th century for a combination of roadways and water-crossings for motor vehicles which would generally traverse as close as possible to the Atlantic Ocean along the East Coast of the United States from Jacksonville, Florida to New Brunswick,...

  • Seven Seas
    Seven Seas
    The phrase "Seven Seas" can refer either to a particular set of seven seas or to a great expanse of water in general. Today in modern times, this also includes the four oceans, and three large seas...

  • Aethiopian Sea
    Aethiopian Sea
    Aethiopian Sea was the name given to the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean in classical geographical works from ancient times to the 19th century...

  • Transatlantic crossing
    • Age of Discovery
      Age of Discovery
      The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration and the Great Navigations , was a period in history starting in the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century during which Europeans engaged in intensive exploration of the world, establishing direct contacts with...

    • Middle Passage
      Middle Passage
      The Middle Passage was the stage of the triangular trade in which millions of people from Africa were shipped to the New World, as part of the Atlantic slave trade...

      • Atlantic slave trade
        Atlantic slave trade
        The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

    • Transatlantic flight
      Transatlantic flight
      Transatlantic flight is the flight of an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean. A transatlantic flight may proceed east-to-west, originating in Europe or Africa and terminating in North America or South America, or it may go in the reverse direction, west-to-east...

  • Battle of the Atlantic
    Battle of the Atlantic
    Battle of the Atlantic may refer to either of two naval campaigns:* The Atlantic U-boat Campaign during the First World War * The Battle of the Atlantic during the Second World War...

  • Borders of the oceans#Atlantic Ocean
  • Gulf Stream shutdown
    Shutdown of thermohaline circulation
    Shutdown or slowdown of the thermohaline circulation is a postulated effect of global warming.There is some speculation that global warming could, via a shutdown or slowdown of the thermohaline circulation, trigger localised cooling in the North Atlantic and lead to cooling, or lesser warming, in...

  • History of the Atlantic Ocean articles
  • Shipwrecks in the Atlantic Ocean
  • Atlantic hurricanes

External links